Is it because she is old and decrepit (battered, decaying) that the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) and the Liberia Football Association (LFA) have apparently neglected the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS)?
Why do we say that? The whole nation listened to the state radio ELBC and other stations Tuesday evening when the sports commentators announced that the thrilling match played by two of the toughest teams in the Annual Football League, Grand Bassa and Nimba counties, ended in a goalless draw.
Referee Sam Kortee and Match Commissioner Yanqueh Borsay decided that there would be a 30-minute extra time, and if there were no scores, a penalty shootout would ensue to determine the winner.
And then what happened? The lights at Liberia’s first modern stadium, built in the early 1950s, probably 1952, for President W.V.S. Tubman’s second Inauguration, went dim. The match, therefore, had to be “postponed” until Wednesday. What a disgrace!
This is January, the month during which all presidential inaugurations are held. This means that the ATS is exactly 64 years old! You mean in that extended period—64 years—we have not yet been able to improve on the stadium, not even to install proper lighting there to facilitate sporting activities during the early parts of the night?
We Liberians often fail to realize that we are and have always been among the most traveled Africans. We have been traveling to North America and Europe for a very long time, ever since 1847, and even before. We have seen how these American and European nations developed their infrastructures, their educational systems and institutions, their science and technological institutions and, of course, their playing fields for the myriad sport and athletic activities.
Alas! In all our travels, we seemed to have learned nothing! Ever since he was elected LFA President, Mr. Bility has attended at least one World Cup and had seen others, even before his election – and so have many other sports officials and enthusiasts before him. Yet, to what avail? What have these Liberian sports officials learned over all these years? How about the people who run our Olympics program? They have seen many Olympic encounters—but to what avail? You mean these people just travel, travel, travel, with no result for the home front?
How much money does it take to properly fix the lighting system at the ATS to enable our athletes and footballers to play their games, even as early as 9 p.m.? This indeed should have been one of the priorities, long before the commencement of the Annual Sports Meet. But we organize this national football tournament year after year and there seems to be no serious thinking or planning—not just of the fixtures, but also of the facilities—that would enable our players to play comfortably on our fields and our tens of thousands of spectators to truly enjoy the athletic and football experiences.
How embarrassing it is for the LFA to invite last Tuesday’s spectators back on the field on Wednesday to watch the same match they paid money to see the day before? It is also dangerous, for in the excitement of the first day (Tuesday), people may have lost their tickets. How would they reenter the stadium on Wednesday? What time were they expected to show up for the completion of Tuesday’s match? How would this interfere with Wednesday’s scheduled match?
Our hope is that the MYS, LFA and the government of Liberia as a whole should immediately meet and agree on fixing the lighting of the ATS. This is surely not rocket science, rather, a simple electrical endeavor. We have seen how the Chinese have done it at the far bigger S.K.D. Stadium. Why can’t we learn from them, or from our neighbors in Nigeria, La Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana? Why must Liberia always be behind? You mean we truly have no shame?
Let us in this New Year 2016 start doing things properly. Let us all, individually and collectively, as a government and as institutions, small, medium-sized and large, make it our business always to think ahead, to conduct our business with utmost efficiency, honesty, patriotism and a high sense of responsibility, determined that from henceforth, we go forward and never backward in everything we undertake.