-Sports Minister Wilson: “Going forward, we will not give money to just any sports official.”
The Minister of Youth and Sports, D. Zeogar Wilson and his deputy, Andy Quamie, over the weekend expressed their utmost disappointment on some county authorities’ alleged deliberate abandonment and neglect of teams at hotels and their refusal to pay their players’ benefits due them.
While on the Truth Breakfast Show, the two top executives of the Ministry said in as much as it is true that the tournament has its success story it will be unfair to close their eyes to the wrongs that occurred, mainly due to some ‘neglect’ from officials of the various counties who should have helped settled the embarrassments that unfolded.
Touching on one of the cases in which a county team was abandoned at a hotel, Deputy Minister Quamie said Sinoe County kickball team could not have left the hotel they were lodged had Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh not intervened to pay over US$1600 for the time they stayed there and some other amount for travel and stipends.
Also touching on Bong County Sports Association’s alleged failure to pay their players’ benefits due them Minister Wilson said a sports’ official of Bong went to the Ministry of Youth and Sports before the kickoff of the County Meet and signed for US$12,000 for the county’s preparation but the money was not used for the intended purpose.
He said the Ministry still looks forward to receiving comprehensive reports from all county sports associations as their reports will be part of the Ministry’s official report to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in order for them to justify that they properly spent the US$250,000 given them for the county meet.
“Going forward, we will not give money to just any sports official. The Superintendent of each county and officials will be involved. The experience of the players of Bong County not getting any money from the US$12,000 is a bad experience,” he said.
He said it is his wish that superintendents across the country will put in place proper mechanisms to ensure that money meant for the county sports teams is safe.
He said the county authorities of Bong have already suspended those who are yet to account for the money received from the Ministry and it is hoped that that serves as a precedent. The Daily Observer could not get any confirmation of the case with any Bong County Sports Official.
Minister Wilson said the county sports meet is not for profit making and as such the Ministry takes no interest in raising money from gate intakes. He added that the Sports Meet is a national event to bring people together.
“We did not even sell tickets for the VIP side of the field. What we seek is sponsorship,” he said, adding that the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and the Federation International Football Association (FIFA) don’t raise the money they need for their works through gate intakes but sponsorship.
Of the US$250,000 that the government gave for the hosting of the tournament, Minister Wilson said US$186,000 went to all the counties, with each receiving US$12,000.
“The host county received a little more and after distributing the amounts to the counties as it should have been we were left with only US$64,000 to work with. The sponsorship we got from others, mainly the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment helped to boost the momentum of the County Meet,” he said.
He said considering the various sports and the success of the tournament, US$500,000 or US$750,000 will be the amount needed to make the holistic impact on the tournament.
He said each county needs at least US$25,000 to adequately support its teams in the competition.
The LBDI on Thursday, January 17 gave in cash L$1.2 million promised to all the winners of the various competitions of the tournament.