County Meet Footballers: Should They Only Be Student Players?

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The president of Liberia Football Association, Musa Bility has an ambitious suggestion to ensure that to an average footballer, there must be a life after the game. He has suggested that before the end of his current administration in the next four years, players for the County Meet must be those who are in school.

However, Bility’s suggestion has been opposed by soccer legend George Manneh Weah, who said Bility’s suggestion could deny players who are not in school a chance to exhibit their talents, since their parents may not be able to send them to school.

While Ambassador Weah’s argument is interesting, it still does not have the vision that caused Bility to apparently make the suggestion as one of his administration’s pillars for success, if accepted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Ambassador Weah rather wants Mr. Bility to recommend to the Liberian government to offer free education to all Liberian kids.

What Ambassador Weah seems not to be aware is that government schools in Liberia offers free education save the payment of registration fees to schools of their choice.

Ambassador Weah also indicated that by playing football, a player could be scouted and provided with a scholarship to pursue his education. This seems to confuse the position of Ambassador Weah against President Bility’s position on the issue.

How can one be scouted as a footballer if the player is not in school, as Ambassador Weah has indicated? One can only be scouted when he is in school.

We can agree that from his background, Ambassador Weah is advocating for those whose parents may not be around or for obvious reasons, do not have the resources to send their children to school and the child’s only joy is to stay home and play the game.

While we are in sympathy with Ambassador Weah’s position, I am sure he is aware that not many of his generation who simply played the game, as he is advocating, are living above the poverty line. Even those who played before his generation are even worst victims of their own failure to be educated.

It is also true that many of Ambassador Weah’s generation and even those previous to his are not able to sustain themselves because they acquired only football skills. I have been a witness to the suffering of some of the old-timers when they are sick and wanted urgent help.

The life span of a footballer in Liberia is a little over 16 years. With the low level of support and exposure in Liberia, one can start playing serious football to earn ‘some income’ on the local scene at age 20. Remember I said to earn ‘some income’, which is not much.

So by age 36, that is 16 years later, if one is lucky and managed to travel abroad, perhaps to Asia, and with some sort of a lucrative contract, then of course the gods of football would smile on him.  

With all due respect to Ambassador Weah, it is a fact that even those of his generation have nothing much to show to the current generation. They have not been able to become models for the current generation that is considered unpatriotic and unserious. I think we need to blame them for the poor legacy they left behind for today’s generation.

The above examples are to let Ambassador Weah to realize the need to support the Bility Campaign to encourage footballers to go to school so that they don’t have difficulty in understanding future contracts if they are fortunate to get one; which will help them avoid the experience of his generation.

In the end when their football days are over, the footballer can make use of what he learned at school to take care of himself and his family.

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