Ebola virus: Johnny McKinstry vows to stay in Sierra Leone

There is an almost missionary zeal to Johnny McKinstry's devotion to his job in Sierra Lone...

...Although just recently sacked as head of the Sierra Leone national team last month, the 29-year-old football coach has run the Craig Bellamy Foundation for the last five years.

“The amount of talent out here is immense, and as the structures for football improve, you are going to see a lot more top African players on the world stage.”

...It says something about McKinstry that his proudest moment in the game was not his appointment to the Sierra Leone hot seat, nor guiding them to their highest ever FIFA world ranking position (50th) during his 18 months in charge, but rather seeing two of his protégés from the academy called up by their country. He said:

“Last year, Sierra Leone under-20s called up two or our academy boys. They were only 16 years of age at the time and one of them made his debut. “To see him pull on the Sierra Leone shirt was such a big moment for him and his family and his community – that’s probably been the proudest I’ve been in football.”

...McKinstry was just 27 when he was made the national team boss of Sierra Leone, yet his is no fly-by-night tale of opportunism. Granted, there’s been a little serendipity in his meteoric rise from youth team coach to the youngest international manager in the world, but McKinstry has largely been the architect of his own destiny.

“I went to university in England but I also knew breaking into football in the United Kingdom is very difficult, it’s a lot about who you know and the contacts you have so I knew I had to go and prove myself outside the United Kingdom and outside of Europe even.   So I had always envisaged that this would take me around the world and so it has proved.

“But my ambition has always been to coach at the top level, whether that be at the World Cup or the Champions League or one of the top leagues in Europe.   That’s the aim. I ’m in no massive rush but I’m looking forward to my next challenge, wherever that might be .”

 ...If one day, McKinstry reaches the very pinnacle of the game, few could begrudge him his day in the sun. If one day, he realises his dream of leading his team out into one of Europe’s most daunting amphitheatres to the strains of the Champions League anthem, no one could say he hasn’t earned it.

And set against the determination which has characterised his young life so far, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound.


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Source:  Daily Mirror

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About Coach McKinstry

Coach McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach, with a number of successes across his 20+ year career to date.    He is currently Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC in Kenya

As Head Coach of the Uganda National Team, the 'Uganda Cranes' (2019 - 2021) he led Uganda to win CECAFA 2019 and over his tenure delivered a WIN from 2 in every 3 games, going undefeated in over 8 in every 10 games played.  This represented the highest 'win' and 'undefeated' rate achieved by a Uganda National Team Coach in over 15 years.

He was International Manager and Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). Within just 17 months he led Rwanda to a number of highs - including their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major international tournament (Quarter-finals of CHAN, Jan 2016) and finished runner-up in CECAFA (Dec 2105), being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts. 

Across 2013-14, he was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team. Within just over a year, he had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World (August 2014). 

He has also been Head Coach of Saif Sporting Club, Bangladesh Premier League (2018-19); and FK Kauno Zalgiris, Lithuanian A-Lyga (2017-18).  He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach. 

Coach McKinstry is a member of 'Common Goal'. Together members seek to support high-impact organisations that harness the power of football to advance the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Quotes: What the media say

  • Leone Stars shine with purpose... what is even more remarkable is what the young Northern Irishman has done ... the Leone Stars are ranked 50th in the world and seventh in Africa – higher than they have ever been.

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  • The figures do not lie. The six matches on McKinstry’s watch have been World Cup or Cup of Nations qualifiers. They have lost one.

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    the guardian
  • McKinstry led the team to their highest ever placing in the FIFA world rankings. They broke into the top 50, ahead of his native Northern Ireland.

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    Damien Edgar Backpage Football
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