Sallu Kamara, Australia’s up-and-coming Sierra Leonean footballer
Since moving to Australia, Sierra Leonean Sallu Kamara is just one of many young African-Australians working to increase multicultural representation in sport. Having been previously selected for the New South Wales Combined High School Schoolboys in 2015, and last year playing for the Central Coast Mariners National Premier League team, Sallu strives to achieve his goal of becoming a professional football star.
Using his experiences so far, Sallu hopes to level the playing field for future generations of African-Australian athletes, making it easier for them to progress onto higher levels in sport and increase the diversity in teams across the country.
Since he was a young child in Sierra Leone, football has always been a constant in Sallu’s life. Now, at the age of 21 and living in Sydney, he continues to focus and refine his skills as a player, working hard to one day achieve his dream of playing for the Australian Socceroos.
“It’s just something that I grew up on and I’ve always had the love and passion for it, and it has just been something I’ve always been good at and it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Sallu said.
He also said he is grateful to be able to play football in a country such as Australia because of the opportunities available for him to develop as a player.
There are much better facilities here compared to what we had back home, where often there’s nothing at all and we just play football in the streets.
“Back home, it’s a really hard life, so sending money back home is a really big thing for us because we’ve got to look after our family and I think that’s a good way to look after them,” Sallu explained.
These remittances to Africa play an important role in the economic development of the continent, by improving living conditions and supporting the education of many younger Africans.
Sallu’s mother Zainab said even though the war in Sierra Leone is over, it is still vital for her to send money because it helps ensure her family have stability.
Things are so hard for them there and we have to make the effort to make their lives easier and look after them because I want to keep them healthy and safe
“If people like me prove ourselves now, then the next generation will most likely get a spot in these higher teams because the coaches have already seen how we’ve performed, how humble we are and how disciplined we are, so it’s a big way for the younger generations to come through,” Sallu said.
“For us to make it to the big ranks, it takes a lot and we’ve got to prove ourselves ten times more than other kids here because they’ve probably already got connections in the soccer community.”
Drawing inspiration from his idol, Sadio Mané, a Senegalese professional footballer currently playing for EPL team Liverpool, Sallu said he is willing to go anywhere in the world if it means he can continue to chase his goal of playing professionally.
“I just hope the future for me and other Africans will continue to be bigger and better.”