In this EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Acting Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Female Football Veteran (SLFFV) ADAMA PAULINA SUMA speaks with JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE on the issue of sexual harassment. The scourge seem to be impeding female football development in the country and she is confident the issue will be critically addressed soon. The excerpts read
Can we meet you?
I am Adama Paulina Suma, the Acting Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Female Football Veteran. I am an Assistant Coach of the Sierra Leone U-17 Female team and Head Coach of the Sierra Leone Police Female team. During my hey days as a footballer, I played for East End Lioness, Ahmadiya Muslim FC and the Sierra Leone Police team.
Your association recently issued a statement charging your FA to investigate cases of sexual harassment, how long has this scourge been going on in your female teams?
It’s so sad that this has been on in our female teams for as long as 12 years, with our female players been subjected to tough situation, but its time to stop this now and bring the perpetrators to book. In fact, some of our female coaches have confessed to have gone through this harassment and intimidation from male coaches during their hey days as players.
But why did SLFFV have to wait for as long as 12 years before addressing it?
My brother, sometimes it takes the mind to be brave and courageous before one decides to come out and speak about this scourge. We have been having complains but we have never had evidences to back it up, but it is a different thing now
Do you mean you have evidences now?
Yes we do. We have had a couple of girls in the female teams who come up to confide in us that they were sexually harassed by some male coaches and we are trying to get more victims to come forward and talk too.
Aside issuing a press statement, what other measures will SLFFV employ to address this issue?
We will do a follow-up by having a meeting with the Sierra Leone FA and we shall put our demands on the table. Our major demand is to tell the FA to allow Female Football teams in the country to be managed by female coaches. Then we shall also make same demand for Administrators, it is not ideal for a male to be in charge of administration for female football, we need females to be in charge, so that the players can be more relaxed in all ramifications. Moreover, our female Coaches are being marginalized, we do not have a say in the national teams, it is the men that are in charge and they are taking over our games. Remember, female football is for females and our females have to lead their female folks, that is what we are demanding.
On issue of marginalization, do you have females that posses the basic qualifications to take up these roles?
Obviously we do. All the female Coaches in Sierra Leone are qualified coaches. Some of them have the License “C” to License “A”, yet they are marginalized. Take for example, if you have two male coaches and one female coach handling a female team do you think the female coach can be effective? It is even worse that most of the female coaches that are there are not even the second Assistant, but the third Assistant.
On a final note, where you ever harassed sexually during your playing days?
I was never harassed during my playing days.
Thank you for giving us your time
Thank you too