From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

By By Rodney Edmond Michael
Dec 30, 2010, 17:32

It’s probably the first time ever in her reign that Queen Elizabeth the 2nd has made sports the central focus of her Christmas message to Britain and the Commonwealth. The Queen’s message emphasizes how sports can be used to build communities and create harmony. It also recognizes the important role of volunteers.

It also focuses on how sport could be a tool to encourage the development of vital social skills.

The Queen said: "In the parks of towns and cities, and on village greens up and down the country, countless thousands of people every week give up their time to participate in sport and exercise of all sorts, or simply encourage others to do so.

"These kinds of activity are common throughout the world and play a part in providing a different perspective on life."

Her Majesty was even comfortable with footage, showing Princes William and Harry and a group of young African orphans from Lesotho bonding as they play football, which was included in the broadcast.

The footage was recorded of The Princes’ visit to the country in June when they visited the remote Semongkong Children's Centre to meet the youngsters, as part of their Southern African Tour.

The topic was rather unexpected and hardly anyone predicted or suggested that the main focus on probably one of the World’s most significant, influential and aired speeches will chose Sports as the key topic especially during a Religious Celebration like Christmas.

I have had the privilege of listening to the Queen’s Christmas Messages since 1982 when I was enrolled in a school in England, and unless my memory has let me down, never have I heard the main focus being sports in all those 28 years; and let me affirm with confidence that I have never missed any of her messages.

However, what is of paramount significance to me as a fervent Sports fan, Analyst, Commentator and Senior Administrator, who has been recognized as one of Sierra Leone’s most recognizable Sports Philanthropist, is Her Majesty’s recognition of the role and importance Sports has played and can play to build bridges and unite Communities. This is in line with one of my favourite quote of probably Black Africa’s greatest and most revered elders, Nelson Mandela, when he said; “sports has the power to unite a Nation…”

It is therefore important to question why for years now our leaders have failed to identify sports as a significant topic for discussion in all their speeches, especially when they address Parliament during the State Opening of Parliament. For years we have observed and complained what appears to be the deliberate failure to discuss sports, and when discussed the effort to trivialize the important role it plays. Our observations and efforts to express our disappointments have been ignored and treated with extreme levity.

It is as if our Leaders have failed to understand the importance of Sports or consider it as an inappropriate means of achieving any positive impact on our society. It has been a pain all of us associated with Sports have had to carry, and in recent times we have been debating whether it will be considered in a Presidential address or not; but of course with very little hope.

However, it is my dream, with Her Majesty’s recognition of Sports as an integral tool for development in all countries, that the end of 2010 will bring a new hope for Sports in Sierra Leone and hopefully 2011 will usher  a change in the attitude of Government in particular, and society as a whole, towards the significance of Sports in building bridges amongst our various tribes and the four Regions; developing our Communities; ensuring Democracy, tolerance, respect, peace and stability reigns; creating Harmony; and most importantly Uniting The Only Nation we call home…..Sierra Leone.

God Bless The Queen! God Bless Our President! God Bless Sierra Leone!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.