The night of Saturday, November 2, 2019 in Monrovia showed a calm, from the general looks, after weeks of political tension that inundated the first two years of the CDC administration in recent times. But this general calmness over the city has its bounds as it did not also overwhelm the Monrovia City Hall where an elaborate awards night organized by the Liberia Football Association was held. The night was abuzz with excitement as many football stakeholders and ordinary Liberians and others converged in their numbers to formed part of an occasion that could be termed as a “Day of Appreciation in the soccer arena.”
The night had a lot to offer for all those who made sacrifices and worked very assiduously and tirelessly during the 2019 Orange-sponsored Liberia Football Association (LFA) season, especially for a young and very passionate and analytical Anthony Kokoi, a Daily Observer Newspaper reporter who has dedicated his life to the world of sports.
With smiles beaming across his face, the young reporter, who also work for the Kreative Mindz Television (KMTV) and Ducor Sports, a continental sports platform based in Kampala, Uganda, majestically walked unto the well decorated stage as a sports reporter ad news anchor, after the LFA Awards Committee announced him winner of the 2018-2019 Best Sports Journalist. The award was voted for by club captain, coaches and accredited sports journalists, and the general public.
It was a dream come true for the young journalist, though some would say it had come too early for him though there is nothing early where passion, commitment and dedication are clearly exhibited. “This is a result of tireless efforts and many sleepless nights,” he said.
He also a winner of inaugural edition of the Orange AFCON Sports Journalists Writing Competition held few months ago.
The grateful reporter paid tribute and dedicated the award to the managements of Daily Observer and KMTV for affording him the opportunity to horn his talents. “This could not have been possible without the support and opportunities you people provided me,” he noted. He was presented a cash prize of LD$125,000.00 and a Techno phone along with the award.
A habitually shy figure, Kokoi, though one of three shortlisted candidates for the Best Sports Writers Award and probably the leading candidate, he had no idea that he would have been the first to grace the stage at that colorful ceremony, which was probably the biggest and most organized to be held by the football house.
Some of the best the nation has produced in the soccer world were present to grace the occasion—including President George Manneh Weah, who is still being revered as the only African to have conquered the global soccer stage; James Salinsa Debbah, the nation’s Most Celebrated Star and record top goal scorer; Minister of Sports, Zoegar Wilson one of the best goal keepers to represent the national colors and many others. Salinsa Debbah also recently served as a coach of the national team prior to the ascendancy of his teammate and captain, Weah, but was sacked shortly afterwards as a result of what some termed as personal differences between the two.
This was Kokoi’s first major award of his burgeoning career and he was truly deserving of the award evidence by the huge buzz accompanied by rounds of applause that engulfed the hall when he was pronounced as winner. “I hope and pray that this is the first of many awards that will come my way. I forever remain dedicated to this profession that I want to give my all for. With God above, we will do more of this,” he told the Observer.
The night was a one to behold for young Koikoi who, though not one of the players, coaches, referees, or any of those who form the nucleus of the beautiful game, he always sit by to provide vivid descriptions with pointed analyses of what happens on the field—a task he has performed with dedication commitment, and open-mindedness to take instruction and acquire new skills.
With smiles beaming across their faces, the two warmly embraced each other with some whispers that were not audible enough for the public to year—but might have been a soul soothing congratulatory message, many thought. Mr. Janyan is the founder and owner of Cece United FC, a youth team that is making headways in the national league.
Meanwhile, this latest feat confirms that 2019 has been nothing but indeed a good year for the Daily Observer newspaper. The nation’s oldest surviving independent newspaper clinched the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) 2018/2019 “Newspaper of Year Award,” at the PUL’s annual award night on August 9, 2019 at the Paynesville City Hall. The PUL also recognized the Daily Observer’s judicial reporter, Abednego N. Davis, as the “PUL Judicial Reporter of the Year.”
In related development, striker Christopher Jackson of LISCR FC took home the biggest award of the night as he was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP). He saw off competitions from teammate Sam Jackson and Varney Dukuly of Nimba United.
President Weah, who became LFA MVP and top scorer of the 1987 season and Debbah, who also was MVP and top scorer of the 1986 season, jointly presented the award key of a 2013 Toyota Corolla to the striker, who also emerged as a joint top scorer with Dukuly.
Lists of Award winners and their cash prizes
Christopher—MVP L$250,000, and car; share L$225,000, a USB stick and Techno phones with Dukuly, as joint top scorers.
Muscat FC striker Mark Yallah— second division MVP, L$450,000
Earth Angels FC striker Angeline Kieh—MVP for the female division, L$350,000.
Angeline scored 42 goals during the season and also received the female highest goal-scorer award, receiving L$225,000, a USB stick and Techno phone.
Barrack Young Controllers (BYC-II) striker Jestino Jackson received the highest scorer award following his 20 goals last season, taking home L$275,000, a USB stick and Techno phone.
Prince Wlame won the best goalkeeper award in the first division with 14 clear sheets. Wlame, who said the award could not have been possible without his club coach Cooper Sannoh.
“I was thinking about forgetting football and to get marry but Coach Sannoh called me and re-lived my career,” the goalkeeper said.
Fifa-badged referee Jerry Yekeh was named the best referee in the first and second divisions, taking home L$450,000.00
Fifa-badged referee Sylvina Garnett was crowned for the female division and received L$225,000.00.
Here is a roll call of the remaining winners.
Category “A” First Division
Best Defender (Samson Dweh): L$225,000.00; Best Goalkeeper (Prince Wlame): L$225,000.00
Best Coach (Cooper Sannah): L$225,000.00
Category “B” Second Division
Best Defender (Josephus Mantor): L$225,000.00
Best Goalkeeper (Reuben King): L$225,000, Best Coach (Mouctarr Fofana): L$225,000.00
Category “C” Female Division
Best Defender (Rashidatu Kamara): L$225,000.00
Best Goalkeeper (Lorpu Forkpah): L$225,000.00; Best Coach (Jenkins Doe): L$225,000.00
Meanwhile, the gala was sponsored by Doxxbet-Liberia, which gave the LFA US$24,000 in April. Orange-Liberia, a mobile phone operator in the country, topped-up the prizes with L$3 million.