Sports

International Sports Journalists Association Recognizes SWASAL

19 April 2013 at 21:33 | 1532 views

By Frank Cole in Sochi, Russia

Having been in the international sporting wilderness for close to three decades since its formation in the early 1930s, the Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) has finally gained international recognition from the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) after the latter’s full compliance with its financial and other obligations to the world sport journalism body.

Officially welcoming the SWASAL President Mohamed Fajah Barrie and National Secretary General Frank Cole to the AIPS 76th Congress which started on the 15th April 2013 at the magnificent Radisson Hotel and Resort Centre in Sochi Russia, the unopposed re-elected AIPS President Gianni Merlo said he felt very glad that Sierra Leone had representatives in such a ‘wonderful’ gathering for the first time.

“I feel very glad that you (Sierra Leone)” he said, “are here.”

President Merlo went further to state that he wanted other countries to follow the footsteps of Sierra Leone and in his words, “come back because this is showing the whole world that we are really moving together in the right direction. The more we (AIPS) come together, the more we can succeed in getting international recognition from other international sports federation and the IOC.’’

Responding to comments from critics back home that SWASAL should have used the money spent to attend the congress in Russia on other developmental activities instead Gianni Merlo blasted: “those critics don’t even know what we are doing. If they can only consider the exchange of opinion and ideas in such a gathering they would have known that you can upgrade your capacity and even organize something big in Sierra Leone.”

The President made reference to the social/new media which was thoroughly deliberated during the second day of the congress, noting that although Africa was trailing far behind in the digital age, “but it is very necessary for you to be mentally upgraded to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

“As Sierra Leoneans, you are not coming here as tourists or to waste money instead you are coming into the world because if you stay alone in your small garden you will never have new ideas,” he cautioned.

In terms of acquiring accreditation for international tournaments he said that the AIPS membership card gives the guarantee for people to know that you are a real professional.

He said “FIFA, CAF, the IOC and other international sports federations always cross check with us (AIPS) for names of sports journalists to give accreditation because there are a lot of fake journalists especially in Africa where people are playing games!”

Photo, left to right: Mohamed Fajah Barrie, AIPS Prexy Gianni Merlo & Frank Cole @ the AIPS 76th Congress in Sochi, Russia.

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