By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Sports Writer kick442.com-Cameroon
The 2021/22 Lebialem Divisional League is set to be organized in Buea after the competition did not take place last football season due to insecurity. Some three clubs have already deposited their registration receipts to the Bureau to participate in the league but more are expected to finalize theirs in the days ahead.
In an exclusive interview with the acting President of the Lebialem Divisional league Njelefac Mathias, he opens up on why the league has struggled to be organized, the teams that have indicated their presence and what he expects from the new SE FECAFOOT bureau this year.
Journalist: Can you tell us more about yourself and how you got into football administration?
Njulefac Mathias: I am a trained teacher who was later appointed to the Divisional Delegation of Transport. I grew up with a very strong passion for football; I was a football at a younger age and it is the same desire that has led me to where I am when it comes to football.
I got the opportunity to come into football administration in Lebialem since the days of Joseph Owona at the helm of FECAFOOT during the days of the normalization commission. I got this title (acting president) that has never changed. I have remained acting president since we have not had the opportunity to have ourselves reorganized so that we could have the actual status of a Divisional League president. That is how we have been working up to this moment.
Journalist: Give us a picture of the challenges last year that made the league not to be organized.
Njulefac Mathias: The challenges are quite enormous and consist of security and financial. As you may have read from the circular, I want to make a small adjustment; that circular which was erroneously addressed to the regional president of FECAFOOT is meant for the general public and the football family in the South West.
What we are going through in the NW/SWRs has affected us. We had normal activities from 2013 but since late 2017 it became almost impossible to organize league activities. Even though we played at home in 2017 with Leopard FC OF Lebialem qualifying for the Regional League. The team which is my own participated back then from start to finish but there were numerous challenges – I had to finance the club almost single-handedly. You can imagine going to Tiko, Mamfe and Kumba to play football from Lebialem.
Journalist: Why the shift of the Lebiam Divisional League to Buea?
Njulefac Mathias: The reason is mainly security. That is the reason why did not play the League last year because they were all afraid of reprisals. We had just one club last year that successfully registered and this kept us away from the SW FECAFOOT elections.
Journalist: Is there any tentative start date for when the League kicks off?
Njulefac Mathias: In the days ahead, we intend to go obtain an authorization from the DO of Buea that will give us a day when we can organize our conference and then ill get to meet with the club persons that have already registered and then we see how we can forge ahead.
So far, I have three clubs that have forwarded to me their registration receipts but I am still looking forward to getting about five before we start. We have Skispodef FC, Leopards of Lebialem FC, Chelsea FC of Alor, and Chievo Verona (will join in the days ahead). We are expecting that before the end of March we should have had at least one more to start the League.
Journalist: What are you expecting from the new SW FECAFOOT Bureau?
Njulefac Mathias: It is unfortunate that for all these while that we have played our league, we have hardly had assistance from the Regional League of FECAFOOT. Now that we have a new bureau, we are counting so much on them for moral and why not financial support during this tournament.
Journalist: What are you expecting from the teams that will be participating?
Njulefac Mathias: I am expecting a lot from the teams. Of course, one of them can qualify for the regional league. Since 2017, we have not played the Regional League. It is in our interest that the winner of this year’s Divisional league should be able to represent and keep the name of Lebialem flying.
Journalist: Any last message to the football community?
Njulefac Mathias: I want to plead with the elites and representatives from Lebialem to try to see how they can support these clubs; with football being one of the unifying factors amongst the youths. AFCON just ended a few days ago and we saw the enthusiasm that came with football. All of those who were playing didn’t come from the sky; they started from somewhere like what we are doing and so, tomorrow may be the turn of one of the players getting into the national team. I am calling on team managers to coordinate their teams and once again calling on the elites to see how they can support football.
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