Sierra Leone’s newly appointed Sports Minister, Ahmed Khanou, who awaits parliamentarian clearance, says the Sports Ministry under his administration will be an all-inclusive management, adding that he is going to build bridges and not walls in executing his duties as minister.
The former Secretary-General of Sierra Leone Volleyball Association will replace the sacked Paul Kamara who once referred to him (Khanou) as the brain behind the success of the Sierra Leone Volleyball Association.
Khanou, who is expected to face Parliament this week for his approval, talked about his plans for sports in the country, his sports background and wide range of other sports related issue in an exclusive interview with Concord Times ace Sports editor, Sahr Morris Jr.
CT: Good Evening Mr. Khanou and congratulations once again on your appointment
Ahmed Khanou: (With a smile) thank you my brother Sahr Morris Jr.
CT: Who is Ahmed Khanou; can you tell us more about this man named Ahmed Khanou?
Ahmed Khanou: hmmmmmm… these are the type of question people fail easily because it is difficult to answer (laugh); anyways I am humble and principled person.
CT: Can you take us through your background, as a kid to this height?
Ahmed Khanou: Yeah. I was born in Rotifunk, but as a young boy my mother returned to Kambia where I was able to attend and gain my primary education. I latter gained my secondary education at the Kollenten Secondary school, but it was at St. Francis in Makeni I did my sixth form before I was enrolled at the Fourah Bay College and achieved my first degree in Human Rights and Politics.
These are just a glance of my educational background. After schooling I was a teacher at the Sierra Leone Grammar School from 1996 to 2002 and within that time frame I rose to the rank of senior teacher.
CT: What else?
Ahmed Khanou: hmmm.. .from the teaching job, I gained employment at Council (West African Examination Council, WAEC). From December 2002 to 2010 I was international staff of Council and later rose to the rank of Senior Assistant Registrar. It was at Council I gained the political appointment from his Excellency President Koroma to serve as the Deputy Minister of Lands, Housing and the Environment. From December to date, I was the acting Minister of the said ministry.
CT: What about your journey into sports, how did you get attracted to sports?
Ahmed Khanou: Well, it all started for me during my school days; but my first sport was football. But due to injury I switched my attention to volleyball, a sport that I have so much passion for during my school days. I once served as captain for my school, St. Francis, and later up to university level and in 1992 I started playing for Northern Region. I played regional competition for the North for three years.
CT: What about the other sports, did you play or compete in any to such level like volleyball?
Ahmed Khanou: No, I did not play other sports because of limited opportunities with school and volleyball. But I was so passionate about sports and I love seeing young people play.
CT: What can you say about Ahmed Khanou the sports administrator?
Ahmed Khanou: It all started for me from the grassroots, I worked as administrator from club management to National Secretary of Sierra Leone Volleyball. I later succeeded in becoming the first Sierra Leonean to serve as the Secretary General of the African Volleyball Federation (CAVB) Development Commission. I am also the architect behind the CAVB African Dream Project which aims at tapping, improving and giving opportunity to young ones to be part of the sport.
CT: How did you receive the news of your appointment as Sports Minster?
Ahmed Khanou: (Smile) it was good news for sports in the country; it comes not as a surprise to many in the sports landscape given the tremendous successes the volleyball federation has scored over the last five years under my administration as secretary-general.
CT: What can you say about your appointment?
Ahmed Khanou: The future can only be bright for the industry in Sierra Leone. In Sha’ Allah! the growth of sports depends on all but I don’t have the single knowledge, we all have little contributions to make including you the sports journalists, fans et al., and if we all hang heads then we can get the much needed result for sports as a nation.
CT: Are you aware of the task ahead and the time frame?
Ahmed Khanou: I am not new to some of the problems within the sports family, in football etc, because I am part of it, so I am no stranger to the expected task, but I know it is a long road and hard work. I am coming to build bridges and not walls.
CT: So what will be your first move?
Ahmed Khanou: I will not say all now, but key will be a general appraisal for sports in the country, deal with all people, get their ideas, and audit what we have and what we will be doing.
CT: Thank you so much for the short time, despite the short notice?
Ahmed Khanou: It always a pleasure Mr. SWASAL Secretary-General.