Bo Rangers: Sierra Leone champions battle Champions League ‘for pride’ – for now

Bo Rangers: Sierra Leone champions battle Champions League ‘for pride’ – for now

Bo Rangers: Sierra Leone champions battle Champions League ‘for pride’ – for now

Bo Rangers celebrate winning the Sierra Leone Premier League title
Bo Rangers have the chance to shoulder the shoulders of the African top next season

Bo Rangers will play for pride rather than financial gain when they first compete in the African Champions League, says club executive chairman Babadi Kamara.

The side from the south of the country was officially crowned champions of Sierra Leone for the first time in their history on the last Sunday of May.

The award ceremony came eight days after Bo Rangers defeated FC Johansen 2-1 to secure the title with two games left.

They became the second team from outside the capital Freetown to win the Sierra Leone Premier League after Diamond Stars, who were victorious in 2012 and 2013.

Bo Rangers will compete in Africa’s premier club competition next season, marking the first time a club from Sierra Leone will appear in the competition since 2017 due to several now-resolved domestic league issues.

“It is a pride for us to be part of the Champions League for the time being,” Kamara told BBC Sport Africa.

“Financial gain comes after hard work.”

Kamara sure of financing continental campaign

Across Africa, some clubs sometimes struggle to fund outings to celebrate Champions League matches due to the enormous costs involved.

Only the 16 clubs that reach the group stage will receive guaranteed money from a total prize pool of $12.5 million from the Confederation of African Football (Caf), the governing body of African football.

The winners will receive $2.5 million, the runner-up will receive $1.25 million, the losing semi-finalists will receive $875,000 each, the losing quarter-finalists will each receive $650,000 and the third and fourth-placed teams in the group stage will each receive $550,000 .

However, clubs usually receive their money at the end of the competition – after funding an entire campaign.

“We are aware that playing the Champions League has huge financial implications,” said Kamara.

“Bo Rangers is a regional club and the only club in the southern region to play the Sierra Leone Premier League.

“This puts the club in a great position as stakeholders in the region will be proud to see their club play at the highest level of club football in Africa.”

Wydad Casablanca celebrates winning the African Champions League
Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca defeated Egyptian giants Al Ahly to win the African Champions League this season, with $2.5 million in prize money

Teams in Sierra Leone usually pay for travel expenses during continental or sub-regional club competitions with little or no support from the Football Association (SLFA) or the country’s government.

So where does Bo Rangers get the money to fund their Champions League campaign?

“The money comes from the club’s coffers,” Kamara said.

“Over the years, I have taken strict financial measures to ensure that the club has a bank account large enough to fund two trips.

“We will certainly take this opportunity to raise more money to fund onward travel from Sierra Leone as we continue to make progress in the competition.”

Kamara reaps benefits from Bo Rangers investment

Babadi Kamara with the Sierra Leone Premier League Trophy
Babadi Kamara helped transform Bo Rangers into champions of Sierra Leone

Winning the Sierra Leone Premier League for the first time in Bo Rangers’ 68-year history was one of the goals Kamara set to transform the club when he took over as executive chairman in 2019.

Within three years, Kamara, who also runs a timber exporting company, has been able to improve the financial status of the club.

Chilean coach Jose Solomon Cortes has joined along with some of the best players in the country, including Musa Noah Kamara, who became the league’s top scorer with 19 goals.

Kamara also has built a clubhouse for the team – the first of its kind in Sierra Leone – and has managed to make the club enviable.

He is thrilled with their latest achievement as he sees his next big dream, which is to see Bo Rangers become one of the best teams in Africa.

“I am happy and extremely proud of my team who have brought joy to my people and the entire family base of the club, both at home and abroad.

“Winning the Premier League is the greatest achievement I have ever achieved in my life.

“It’s a situation where you want to help your people, but it’s absolutely impossible to put money in everyone’s pocket.

“So helping my people through Bo Rangers has resulted in us winning the league for the first time, which means everything to me. We have a clubhouse and we won the league. This has made us a strong club in Sierra Leone created.”

Our goal is to remain the best in Sierra Leone and one of the best in Africa through competition and player development.”