Liberia Football Association President Musa Bility may have been prevented from contesting the February 26 FIFA presidency, but he is not at a loss of ideas that could change the face of Liberian soccer.
But what is the value of ideas if they are not examined and at least tried?
Liberian football has had several competing challenges. It started from the loss to the Black Stars of Ghana in 2002 when there was a clear chance of Liberia qualifying for the Korea/Japan World Cup.
Liberia had humbled the Black Stars in Accra 3-1 and for the first time in history the gods of football had prepared the way for Liberia to appear in the World Cup.
Sadly, the return leg at home exposed Liberia’s unpreparedness; fate decided otherwise, and Ghana won 2-1.
“It was the end of the progress of Liberian football,” admitted journalist William Q. Harmon, a community soccer coach. “Liberians lost interest and that defeat affected their passion for the local game.”
Liberian football was set for a dangerous course, and thereafter successive presidents of the Liberia Football Association were set to face the most difficult problems imaginable.
Mr. Edwin Melvin Snowe (now Senator) was president of the LFA at the time and Mr. Musa Bility took over from him. Bility is a businessman and despite the challenges, he was convinced that he could turn things around for the best.
But aware of the mess at the time, he told the whole world that Liberian football was dead, and promised to revive it. Though he knew that the easy access to European football would make the job difficult, he held on to the belief that he would make some progress.
Bility has not been successful to get the Senate to appropriate more funds to develop football. His trump card was to use the business community to change things around.
The idea of commercialization is the result, but there were not many foreign businesses interested in putting money behind local football. Previously, Lonestar Cell MTN put its weight behind the national team but later withdrew and Bility managed to get Cellcom GSM to now put money behind the national team and the regular league. Can we honestly say that Bility has failed to commercialize football?
Since 2010 the Liberia Football Association has waited for the implementation of the Club Licensing System (CLS) to develop youth soccer. The CLS is different from the five-year youth program developed by Henry Browne’s Technical Department at the LFA. The CLS requires first division teams to have youth teams.
Browne’s Technical Department successfully carried out for the first time a regional 3rd Division Championship throughout the country. The finals were held in 2013 in Monrovia.
National County League
It is this part of the development that I am convinced Bility recently made a passionate appeal to the Ministry of Youth & Sports to turn the National County Soccer Meet to a National County League that the LFA, not the government, would manage.
If we are serious about developing talents, if we are serious about moving our youth football to another level, it would make sense to reconsider Bility’s recommendation.