The Sierra Leone sports ministry have made a commitment to equality in football as they confirmed that the women’s national side will now be paid the same as their male counterparts – the men’s national team, known as the Leone Stars.
The new measures cover appearance fees and winning bonuses with the Sierra Leone sports minister Ibrahim Nyelenkeh stating that the move to equal pay has been done in tandem with the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).
According to Nyelenkeh, the government decided to harmonise payment for senior national teams in order to improve the women’s game, and most importantly afford equal treatment to all.
“We decided to harmonise match appearance fee so that we can see how best we can motivate the female footballers to develop the women’s game,” Nyelenkeh told BBC Sport Africa.
“The female footballers have been left out for far too long. The male and female teams are serving the same purpose, so I don’t see any reason for us to pay the female team less.
“It’s never too late because we’ve been working on it, the policy doesn’t have to come within a twinkle of an eye, and it’s a process, that’s why we’re here today.”
The sports minister added that the SLFA played an important role in putting together the policy as they’ve been dealing with the women players.
“We as a ministry are responsible to pay the players, but we don’t work in isolation. We sat down with the SLFA and worked out the whole policy,” he said.
“This is a huge boost and motivation for female football in Sierra Leone. In fact, this a challenge we’ve thrown to the female footballers – you must prove yourself before you’re called up to the senior national team.
“I know players will now put more efforts in their game to fight for a place in the national team, they’ll have to prove their mettle to be called upon,” concluded the sports minister.
One of Sierra Leone women’s team players, Rashidatu Kamara said, “I’m delighted that we are now having equal pay with our male counterparts.”
The 21-year-old converted left-back went on to say that the initiative will motivate all female players in the country to do more.
“It’ll also encourage parents to allow their girls to play football. Having equal pay is what we’ve been hoping for, this is welcoming news and I want to say thanks to our government and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA),” concluded Kamara.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi