Junior footballers vanish, after reaching major final

SPANISH authorities are search for two 14-year-olds from Sierra Leone, who disappeared after competing in a major, junior football competition, in the Basque city of San Sebastián.

The pair had travelled to the northern city in early July to compete in the 28th Donosti Cup, as members of the Diamond Child team.

But on 13th July, when it was time for the team to return to Freetown, they escaped through a window in the middle of the night and disappeared.

The minors, who have no money or contacts in the region, have not been seen since, according to Basque regional government’s security department.

Anthony Seydu, President of the NGO Diamond Child School of Arts and Culture, and legal guardian of the minors, reported them missing to the Basque police force, the Ertzaintza, hours after they disappeared.

Seydu said the two fled last Saturday between 2-6am: “They had escaped through the window of the residential centre, where they were staying during the tournament, he added.

“They were sharing a room with three other players when they fled.  The other boys were sleeping and didn’t hear anything. But we are obviously worried about their whereabouts.

“We have shared a photo of them in case anyone sees them and can help us find them. Their names are Momodu Sesay Inonnson and Alimamy Kanu, and we ask for respect in this delicate matter and that any message must be sent privately.

“We know they don’t have any contacts in Spain. They are young boys, who have been part of our school for many years, and we have seen them grow.”

The Diamond Child footballers, who made it all the way to the junior final, before losing, had travelled to San Sebastián, thanks to the Gipuzkoa provincial parliament, which approved €4,000 in funding in April to bring the team, plus two other sides, the Israeli’s Al-Bustan and Palestine’s Not to Forget Jenin, to the city for the competition.

The Donosti Cup is the largest, international, junior football tournament in Spain, and the fifth biggest in Europe.

This year, 7,500 footballers, aged between 11 and 18, from 27 countries, took part in the competition. The Donosti Cup Foundation has a tradition of inviting teams from developing countries.

Four years ago, boys from a Mozambique orphanage were asked to take part. In 2017, Madrid’s Dragones de Lavapiés competed, and this year, the Sierra Leone team, along with and a girls’ side from Palestine, participated. The Diamond Childs excelled by reaching the final, only to be beaten by Catalan side Atlètic Segre CA.

The Spanish Embassy helped the Diamond Child footballers to get visas so they could compete. Now, though, Seydu is not only worried about the two youngsters, but concerned that the boys’ disappearance will jeopardise future trips to Spain for other teams.

“I think they they used this situation very poorly,” he said. “Now, we might not be able to offer this possibility to other children in Sierra Leone,” he said.

The police and the NGO are in contact with the boys’ families in Sierra Leone, in case they contact their relatives and provide some clue as to their whereabouts.

Seydu believes the pair decided to escape “because they have the perspective that everything is easy in the West”.

He added: “They are not aware that, if you escape, you will soon find yourself on the street. They won’t know anybody, not even the language, and they will end up sleeping on the street, which worries me.

“Now it’s sunny, but winter will begin soon and it will be harder for them. All our effort is going towards finding them as soon as possible.”


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Posted by on Jul 26 2019. Filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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