President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said it: the Lone Star’s success over Guinea Bissau last week “shows that things can happen once you have committed people undertaking a task.”
For too long our National Squad has been the underdog in African football. Not that it could not play the game, but it lacked scorers and scoring power. And so, though our defenses have been strong, our weakness in scoring exposed us to the slightest chance the opponents seized; and lo, we lost.
Alas, the commitment of all the stakeholders in this challenging feat has paid off handsomely.
This newspaper, the Daily Observer, has long argued that our Lone Star team can succeed with all hands on deck, not just the Liberian Football Association (LFA). In an Editorial not too long ago we demanded that the Ministry of Youth and Sports take charge of sports in Liberia as it ought to, for one simple reason: our teams, be they football, basketball, tennis, swimming or track and field, wherever they go in the international arena, represent not just their individual associations, but the Republic of
Liberia. So who should be in the forefront leading, empowering, financing, encouraging and cheering? Surely not just the individual associations, but the government itself, led by its Ministry of Youth and Sports.
We think it was a mark of shortsightedness that Mr. Bility decided, after he was elected LFA President, that football was the exclusive preserve of the LFA. Well, the others, including the Ministry, sat back and said, “Give the bulldog his bunch of palm nuts. He will regret in the end.” Can a bulldog eat a bunch of palm nuts? No, he will end up only with a bloody mouth and nose.
So has the Lone Star ended experiencing one defeat after another?
Yes, it was following that last defeat, when Togo crushed the Lone Star 2-1 that we published that final Editorial pleading with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to take charge of football that Minister Eugene Nagbe listened and got busy.
We won the very next match, dealing Tunisia, an African football powerhouse, a stunning 1-0 defeat!
Then came Guinea Bissau, which courageously, on our own turf at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, forced us to a one-all draw.
But when the Lone Star showed up in Bissau for the rematch, we beat them 3-1!
En route to the ATS for the victory celebration last Friday, the Lone Star was graciously invited by the President to her Foreign Ministry office, where she praised them for their prowess and triumphant performance. She touched all the buttons, commending all those involved for what she called their “commitment.”
The real heroes, she declared, were the Lone Star Squad, including many who had traveled thousands of miles from their engagement with international teams, to join their brothers in the battle with Guinea Bissau; and the Squad’s brilliant and dynamic Coach, James Salinsa Debbah.
Next on Ellen’s list of commendation was the LFA and its President, Musa Bility; and last, but by no means least, Minister Eugene Nagbe and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
President Sirleaf praised them all for their “commitment” through which, she said, great things can happen.
Oh Liberia! Why can’t we all always be committed to the cause of our country? If we could all put our dear country first before ourselves, Liberia would be far, far ahead.
Should we maintain this spirit of commitment, we would be able to meet every foe, including the Ivorian Elephants, and all others, as our National Anthem author Daniel B. Warner, proclaimed: “with valor unpretending.”
“Long live Liberia, Happy land, a home of glorious liberty by God’s command!
“A home of glorious liberty by God’s command!”