Two American teachers are expected to be honored for the development and promotion of two of the country’s popular sports – kickball and basketball – according to Assistant Sports Minister Murvee Gray.
The two Americans, Herald Emmet McGowan and Ms. Cherry Jackson, were in the country in the 1960s and ‘70s and served as instructors.
According to Minister Gray, Mr. McGowan, a former American Peace Corp volunteer assigned in the leeward counties, expanded the game of basketball in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
He dedicated 20 years of voluntary service to the development of basketball and the Upcountry Basketball Tournament that is held annually in his honor. He influenced over 3,000 Liberians to passionately play basketball – and his legacy lives on.
For her part, Ms. Jackson, a missionary and teacher, was instrumental in the development of kickball. She formed the game after realizing that the teaching of softball or baseball among the female population was ineffective.
According to a report, Liberian females refused to play the American softball or baseball for fear that they would develop muscles like men. Mr. Lemuel Sherman established a National Kickball Association in 1994 with standardized rules for players and referees.
In an interview with reporters, Mr. Gray said the Ministry of Youth and Sports will invite the leadership of the American Peace Corps Volunteers to receive the certificates of honor. Also to be honored will be Vice President Joseph N. Boakai.
The honoring ceremony will be held during the 2016 Upcountry Basketball Tournament in Ganta, Nimba County, which will run from Thursday, November 10, to Sunday, November 13.
The Vice President will deliver a “Special Statement on Integrity and Sportsmanship” to the students and thereafter throw the jump ball to officially start the tournament.
Minister Gray said about 15 high schools from five counties are expected to participate in the Upcountry Basketball Tournament.
Some of participating schools are defending champions and host Ganta United Methodist School, St. Mary’s, Bishop Carroll and LASS from Nimba County.
Others are 2014 winner St. Martins, Gboveh High, and William V.S. Tubman-Gray; Zorzor Central High, LTI, C. H. Dewey, and Brumskine High School.
The Upcountry Basketball Tournament is a sporting festival initiated in the 1970s to help promote the game among high school students in the central region, which at the time comprised of Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.