As the various presidential candidates continue to provide their platforms to convince electorates to vote for them in the pending October elections, there is a key factor to nation building that is being left out: sports. Sports, as an integral part of every nation, have the dual role of building and development. Politicians are knowledgeable about the huge benefits empowering young people can bring to the nation through infrastructure development and physical development. Politicians also have the passion for the game and therefore it is important that as debates and other discussions are held, they should take the time to examine what they can do for sports to empower the youth.
It was noted that in yesterday’s debate organized by the Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC), the question about sports was neither mentioned nor discussed. When asked about what specific measures will be put in place to address the issue of Liberians living below the poverty line, and how they will fund a poverty reduction program if elected, the four presidential candidates provided several ideas and measures they might explore to move the country forward. For example, reconciliation was a theme that was highlighted in yesterday’s debate, but they forgot that sports are a means to reconcile the people as they are avenues to unleash the patriotic fervor of Liberians for a particular cause.
Sports are not only “unifiers,” they are also one of the key means to provide employment for the youth that can alleviate their financial position. Throughout the world, sports are used to employ young people and to unify divided nations. Although there are challenges attached to alleviating poverty and the development of sporting programs in Liberia, it boils down to the lack of planning and lack of interest from the very beginning, as it is now being portrayed by the various presidential candidates, particularly in yesterday’s debate.
What is the assurance that if elected these politicians are going to invest in the sports sector, since they are not mentioned in their platforms? Other African countries have been able to make major breakthroughs in revenue, infrastructural development, and empowerment of citizens through investment in sports. Successful athletes are described as heroes in every country, and Senator George Manneh Weah’s phenomenal and inspirational rise to stardom and as a politician has its basis in sports.
Our presidential aspirants, therefore, should not forget the importance of sports in the enhancement of their platforms because even the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe became a Liberian idol for his exceptional support of sports, with the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex being a living testament to his legacy.