Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Millwall To Host Sierra Leone As The Country Look To 2010

London Football Club, Millwall FC, will commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery with a special friendly to be played at the Millwall Stadium on Saturday 4th August (kick-off 3pm).

They will play against Sierra Leone for the 'Unity in the Community Cup’. According to Leone Stars captain, Mohamed Kallon, they will use this match as preparation for the 2010 build up.

According to a confirmation from Sol Jabatti, who is one of key brains behind this all-important friendly, the match is in remembrance of the Abolition of Transatlantic Slavery 1807 -2007.

Furthermore, he maintained that a superb entertainment is in store for all the family, with live Sierra Leonean and Caribbean music commencing at 1pm. Afterwards, there will be a fitting tribute of a minute's applause for leaders of the abolition movement, Olaudah Equiano and William Wilberforce, and a short religious African ceremony to reflect on the past and look to the future.

In addition, the event ties in with the visit to London of the slave ship 'Amistad' that is currently retracing the infamous slave triangle between the Americas, London and Sierra Leone.

The Amistad will sail up the Thames with players from Sierra Leone on board escorted by the Royal Navy; it will dock at West India Quay in front of the Docklands Museum where the public can board free of charge.

Organizer Mike Charles worth promised, "This is a unique opportunity to enjoy top class

football from the rising stars of African soccer whilst remembering the millions who suffered and to pay tribute to the courage of those who campaigned for the abolition of slavery, both black and white."

Millwall Football Club Chairman Stewart Till added: "Millwall Football Club is pleased and proud to be associated with the commemoration of the abolition of slavery, and what better way to celebrate than with this match. Football has proved time and again to have

tremendous potential to bring people together and we are looking forward to welcoming the players, officials and supporters of the Sierra Leone team to The Den."


The London Docks and Shipping Industry were pivotal to the growth of the transatlantic slave trade. Merchants and ship building were centered around Deptford and in later years, the newly built East and West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. During the 18th century, as many as one ship a week was leaving London for West Africa before heading to the Americas.

It was the largest forced migration in history with approximately 3.5 million people taken from West Africa and a loss of life on route estimated at 500,000. The ships returned to London with a range of products including gold, sugar, cotton and coffee, which fuelled the growth of the British economy and empire.

Sierra Leone was the focal point for the slave factories and exportation to the

Americas and eventually, with Britain's assistance, the abolition movement. The capital

'Freetown' was named after the 'Province of Freedom', established in 1787 for the

resettlement of freed slaves transported back to Africa.

William Wilberforce was a Member of Parliament and social reformer who was influential in the abolition of the slave trade and eventually slavery itself in the British empire.

Oloudah Equiano on the other hand was an African writer whose experiences as a slave prompted him to become involved in the British abolition movement. In 1789 he published his autobiography, 'The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African'.

He traveled widely promoting the book, which became immensely popular and helped the Abolitionist cause.

Millwall Football Club's history is firmly based in London's docklands and the shipping industry initially on the Isle of Dogs and now south of the river.

Immigrants from Sierra Leone now reside in the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Southwark whose borders divide Millwall's current stadium in Bermondsey. So it is the ideal venue to reflect on the past while enjoying both countries’ national Sport.

Goal.com - England - Millwall To Host Sierra Leone As The Country Look To 2010