After a relatively quiet May, our June schedule was already beginning to look busy even before the month commenced. It's strange how everything just seems to happen at the same time and I was beginning to suspect it was going to be one of those manic months - not complaining though, in these parts you appreciate all the business that comes your way. So when last week we received a request to handle the South African Football Association's 47 strong delegation due to arrive in Freetown in only a few days, my 'one of those months' assertion was confirmed. Nice!
Visit Sierra Leone was basically responsible for everything outside the remit of SLFA's responsibilities. So we sorted out their hotel, hovercraft charter and vehicles as well as used our valuable contacts to deliver any very short notice requests, such as pulling additional vehicles from our hat.. that kinda thing.
Following the arrival of an advance team of two on the Monday before the match, the rest of the delegation arrived by chartered flight on Thursday, 03.30. Seeing as the hovercraft has been chartered this meant crossing over to the airport at 4am to transfer the team and their 5 tons of luggage. Mohamed, our man at the airport facilitated this and by the time we got their they were just waiting to board. What struck me immediately was how much stuff they travel with. Everything! They prepare their own meals which meant they had their own chef, brought their own fruits, pots, spoons.. everything! Cannot fault them on preparation! I guess the life of football teams is not all glamour - especially for the backroom staff. Those guys work their socks off to keep the players 'happy' and focused.
The first day was quite hectic as everyone was understandably tired, plus it seems everyone at Bintumani Hotel was asleep even though they knew of the arrival. Ok, in their defence the original ETA was 06.30 so everything had to be brought forward when we learnt they were arriving 3hrs ahead of time, but they did know of the time change. We also had to insist they made some changes in the meeting room, replace stained table cloths, chair covers and the like. From then on, things mostly flowed.
I could - and maybe should - write an entire blog on the hotel. Spending so much time there let see for myself just how much work needs to be done. I mean it's an ok hotel but in need of maintenance in areas and raising of standards in other areas. For the amount you pay a night, I really don't know if every time the lobby is empty staff should switch off the TV and lights.. or in the business centre where they must switch off all machines and AC. Even if only empty for 5mins?! Common. There's cost saving but for $138 a night? I felt like playing a game with the barman who operated the TV. A game of come and go... he must have switched it off and on so many times in half an hour. Poor guy. As for the communication with the Chinese Management.. well it's a challenge.
Anyway back to the team and match. Watching them train, a couple of things struck me.. firstly they're a young team which makes me think they're building towards 2010 and secondly I thought they might have a problem if it was really hot on match day.
I had a sneaky feeling Leone Stars might just edge it with the odd goal. I'd seen Bafana play against Nigeria and thought they lacked cutting edge up front. They could do with a Benni Macarthy who isn't in the team at the moment. It proved to be the same against Leone Stars - Especially In the second half when they had their chances. It wasn't particularly a high quality match but we'll take the three points thank you. I must admit, I had felt like part of Bafana's preparation for the match so even though I was elated with the Leone Stars win, there was also a tinge of disappointment for Bafana. Still, Leone stars hadn't won for so long that you had to be happy for them.
Right after the match it was back on the convoy to plan their hasty exit. It sucks to lose, but hey someone had to. No doubt they're planning their revenge on Saturday. They simply cannot afford to drop points.
“We were extremely happy with the service that you provided. There is no doubt that if we had not used your company, we would have found great difficulty to move around and to know the right facilities to utilise. We were impressed that you were able to help us at such short notice! We were happy with your work and we would have no hesitation to recommend your company to anybody who wanted to visit Sierra Leone in future.”
Safe to say they were happy with the service provided.