Elite Player Development

Coach McKinstry with CBF Academy players Santigie Koroma and Sulaiman Samura who were selected for Sierra Leone U-20 [versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)]

5 April 2014 saw first generation CBF players Santigie Koroma and Sulaiman Samura selected as part of the Sierra Leone U20 squad (the 'shooting stars') to face Guinea in the 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifier.

Santigie Koroma on his debut for Sierra Leone U20 [versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)] Santigie Koroma made his international debut, coming on in the 76th minute, with CBF team mate, Sulaiman Samura, on the bench. Coach McKinstry provides half time advice to Santigie Koroma (CBF) before his debut for Sierra Leone U20 [versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)]


The boys were selected by U-20 national coach Charlie Wright to be part of the 18 man squad after impressive performances on the training ground in the week preceeding the game.


Coach Mckinstry was on hand to watch the game in both his role as National Team Coach and Academy Manager of the Craig Bellamy Foundation.


Sulaiman Samura (CBF) warming up [before the Sierra Leone U20 versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)]Coach McKinstry commented "It is a very proud moment for me and all at the CBF academy.  Having scouted these boys only 4 years ago, and worked with them every day since they were 13, it is thrilling to see them make their international debuts."

"It is a huge achievement for Santigie (17 years old) and Sulaiman (16 years) to be selected for the U-20 squad at such a young age.  It is a testament to their determination, and to the work of the Craig Bellamy Foundation and their dedicated coaching and teaching staff."


The boys represent the first CBF players to be selected for the national team, only a few years after the Craig Bellamy Foundation Academy was established in Sierra Leone. 


Sierra Leone recorded a 1-0 victory in the game.



Notes to Editors

  1. You can read more about the Craig Bellamy Foundation at www.craigbellamyfoundation.org
  2. You can also learn more about the personal background and development of Santigie Koroma and Sulaiman Samura.  
  3. See www.johnnymckinstry.com for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use
  4. To arrange an email or telephone interview, please contact  


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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

  • Johnny McKinstry is one of the most intelligent, level-headed and knowledgeable managers in the game today. Few can match his achievements by the age of 30, and fewer still the success he has enjoyed in the game.

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    These Football Times
  • If one day, McKinstry reaches the very pinnacle of the game, few could begrudge him his day in the sun... no one could say he hasn’t earned it.

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    Daily Mirror
  • It stands testament to his adaptability, hunger and talent ... that McKinstry has tamed the toughest challenges and risen to become one of the best young managers in football today.

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    These Football Times
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