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 the Gambia National Team and Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC in Kenya (2022-24) where he won two Kenya Premier League titles (2023-24, 2022-23), and the 2023-24 Kenya Charity Shield, returning the club to the top of Kenyan football.

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

He was Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). Within 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).   

Coach McKinstry is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach and a member of Common Goal.

Quotes: What the media say

  • McKinstry has a voracious appetite for football and for learning, he lives and breathes it and his sense of adventure means predicting his next move is not easy.

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    Ben Smith BBC Sport
  • McKinstry made an impressive start, losing just one of his first six matches and leading Sierra Leone into the top 50 of Fifa's world rankings, above Northern Ireland, the Republic, Cameroon and Senegal.

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    Ben Smith BBC Sport
  • McKinstry has become one of the most rounded and well-travelled British coaches at the highest level abroad.

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    These Football Times
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