Football in Sierra Leone

School football team in Sierra Leone/ © Daniel Lewis 2012

During my recent trip to Sierra Leone I was spoilt for choice for photographs. As well as the tight shooting schedule at the Sierra Rutile mine, we also were fortunate enough to visit some of the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects. We visited a local school and were made to feel very welcome by the children. They love their football in Africa, it is one of the past times that children really take to, not only here, but all over the world, and none more so than in Sierra Leone. There are various charities that use this passion for the game as a way to entice the children to attend school – the attendance rate in Sierra Leone is under thirty percent – the hope is that by attending school, they will be rewarded with a football scholarship to football academies like the Craig Bellamy Foundation which is a very successful way of educating them in basic life skills and beyond, whilst still encouraging their love of football.

Being a lover of football myself I often look out for elements of it when I travel. Over the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many countries around the world and the beautiful game is prevalent in all of them – I like to think of it as our gift to the world. It does good in so many ways; a base from which to make friends, team spirit and fair play, honesty and a strive for success with a winning mentality – all great attributes required for life. I watched and photographed these kids playing, and have to say, there were plenty of very skilful boys who, with a little backing, could go far. It’s not surprising that Premier League football teams scour Africa for the next superstar, its a gold mine for footballing talent.

Below is a selection of images as well as a three minute behind the scenes video from the assignment…

Some other football images I took along the beach in Freetown…


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  1. journeythroughnews

    It’s wonderful how such a simple game can connect people from different sides of the world. Through football, these boys can also build themselves a future. I hope that this continues not just in Sierra Leone, but in the rest of the world as well.


    • I totally agree. It does just that, you only have to look at the World Cup and how that connects people all over the Globe – especially when it happened in South Africa. It’s fantastic. Many thanks for your comments.


  2. theladyswan

    Wow I have always wanted to go to sierre leone and will whenever I get the chance. These are such lovely pictures!


  3. As a fellow football supporter I like to see examples of the game’s potential to do good, I bet those lads in Sierra Leone wouldn’t waste a golden opportunity by getting kicked out of nightclubs or much worse if they were given the chance to play in the Premier League.

    Brought to life by same beautiful imagery – my favourite picture is the game on the beach with the stunning mountain back drop, very enjoyable read.


  4. Beautiful photos….I love the mxture of stuarted light and colour. I was in Senegal a few years ago and your shots have a similar mood and feeling…really nice!


    • Many thanks for your kind comments! I wish you all the very best with your run, a fantastic cause for some truly amazing children. They really had a magnificent effect on me, just meeting them and seeing how kind and welcoming they are, they deserve to have all the support in the world, and a better start in life – people like you will help make that a reality I’m sure. Good luck!!


  5. Very nice photographs! You have correctly said that Africa is a goldmine for footballing talent! Do you have more footie photographs from other countries?


  6. Pingback: Football in Sierra Leone « | Pro Openbin

  7. I love Sierra Leone, I was there on assignment last year. I think you have really captured the spirit of the place well and I agree that I have never come across such a football crazy nation as Sweet Salone! I spent half an hour with a man who was sobbing…really sobbing….because his beloved Arsenal had lost a match. As a Tottenham supporter I found it hard to console him! Thanks for sharing the photo and the video.


    • Thank you Laura! Yep they’re pretty passionate about their footy – when I left a few weeks ago on the ferry to the airport they were all watching the Arsenal beat City, big cheer when Arteta scored. Bet you’re happy Harry is staying now! Thanks for your kind feedback – shall check out your website too 🙂


      • Thanks 🙂 My main site is at – mainly humanitarian work. We went across from Lungi to Freetown on a ‘public speedboat’ and I have never been so grateful for football as it really enabled a conversation to start pretty quickly.
        I am very glad Harry is staying, and hopefully it will be for longer than he is currently signed up for.
        Keep up the great work, excellent blog!


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  9. It is inspiring to see pictures of young children playing football as an inspirational activity for the future. The playgrounds may not be world class but that is where the best football players start from. May it become better in the near future.


  10. amazing photographs, it is nice to see some positive images that show Africa as more than a food deprived and crime ridden continent and that there is happiness there as well. I would love to visit it! Great job!


  11. hasegawachuck

    It’s inspiring how people in tough situations find hope and still able to smile with little things like by just playing football!


    • Yes they are very much encouraging girls to be involved, particularly the charity I mentioned, the Craig Bellamy Foundation. Unfortunately there is a certain stereotype that girls there are almost expected to adhere to and is a lot is being done, I’m told, to address that. During that walk down he beach that day for the football pictures, I didn’t see a single girl either watching or taking part so I think that sport is something that they are really striving for girls to be more involved with. I did ask that question when I was out there and that was the answer I was given.


      • So interesting. I lived in Ecuador for a while and the girls there didn’t play much either. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. I love anything to do with sports and my daughter just scored her first goal ever in her game on Friday night. We celebrated with ice cream!


  12. Loved the photos man.. real cool..

    May I ask which cam you used to click these.. I plan on buying a camera. I’m really a newbie in photography..So I don’t want to spend too much on it at the same time I want the same clarity as your pics 😛 🙂 let me know when you find time.


    • Thanks!

      I used a Nikon D3 with an 85mm 1.4 lens. Nikon are a fantastic make so I would recommend them, but whatever you get it’s a lot about the lens quality rather thank which camera. Nikon/Canon you can’t go wrong with.


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