The Sierra Leone NOC AC used the grant to hold a series of lectures and programmes to offer support and education to its athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts, including government nurses, led each topic of discussion, while essential supplies were also provided to athletes at a critical time.
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The NOC Athletes’ Commission Activity Grant proved extremely valuable for Sierra Leone, which organised a number of activities at the OlympAfrica Centre and the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation from 3 to 5 June 2020 to support its athletes at an incredibly challenging period.
To ensure protective measures were fully observed, the support programme was spread across three days. Day one saw nurses from the government provide lectures on the coronavirus, offering education on the virus itself, its health effects, how it can be controlled and preventative measures. There was also a discussion on how the pandemic has affected the athletes physically and mentally.
This was followed by talks on WADA anti-doping rules, including testing, effects and dangers, and the implementation of rules and regulations. Chef de Mission Unisa Deen Kargbo also briefed athletes on the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and how COVID-19 has affected preparations for the Games. Athlete mental health was similarly a key talking point.
Many Sierra Leonean athletes had encountered difficulties in funding and finding basic necessities as a result of the pandemic, and the Commission was able to use the grant to purchase and distribute essential supplies to its athletes. This included rice bags, cooking oil, face masks, veronica buckets and sanitisers.
Sierra Leone NOC AC Chair Frank Turay said: “During the hugely challenging period of COVID-19, the support of the IOC has showed our athletes that they matter, and they will be supported.
“Our athletes have really come to appreciate that the Commission cares for them and is prepared to step forward at critical moments to ensure they do not suffer alone.”
Building trust and confidence
At a time when they needed support and unity more than ever, the activities the Commission were able to organise as a result of the USD 10,000 grant has brought the athletes of Sierra Leone even closer together.
Not only did the grant present an opportunity for educational lectures and programmes to be held, creating a space for the athletes’ voices to be heard, but it has also subsequently strengthened the relationship between the Commission and its athletes.
Frank added: “We have built up such trust with our athletes that they now don’t hesitate to ask questions regarding the coronavirus, their future and the world of sport. They have so much more confidence in reaching out to us for advice and support.”
We have built up such trust with our athletes that they now don’t hesitate to ask questions regarding the coronavirus, their future and the world of sport. They have so much more confidence in reaching out to us for advice and support.