In activities in which expectation, at least some expectation, depend on events of the day, there is a high chance of people invoking spirits or seeking power beyond human understanding.
Sports, and particularly soccer has that identity where, despite its scientific and modern training, someone in the know will suggest that all what players have done may not be successful, unless some help comes from outside.
In the history of Liberian soccer, there are coaches, players and teams, including team presidents who have contributed to the idea that a power from beyond human beings can help win matches.
For example, it was in the golden days of the national soccer team, Lone Star, and George Weah, Jonathan Sogbie, James Salinsa Debbah and the rest of the gang were in top form.
There was a match against a neighboring team, and a photo-journalist had positioned himself behind the goalpost of the visiting team, snapping pictures at the SKD Complex.
Coincidentally, any attempt the home-team made to score would just not enter the net.
Fairly soon, spectators, tired waiting for goals, realized that someone in all white attire was behind the goalpost of the visiting team and therefore began to demand for his relocation.
As far as the spectators were concerned the presence of the man in white was spiritually directing the ball away from entering the net.
There are many instances that footballers or anyone who has been a member of a soccer club, or a sport club, has had an experience of visiting someone, said to possess powers beyond mortals and can make a way for victory.
That is why the allegation made over the radio last week by LISCR FC President Mustapha Raji that his suspended coach, Gabriel Johns had bothered him with funds to get help from juju men makes interestingly consideration.
“I have always refused because I believe the team’s success will come from practice and dedication from the players and not from juju men,” Raji said.
In a telephone interview with Coach Johns yesterday, he said, “I always encourage my players to pray before our games. We’ve had others fast for the team.”
Whatever anyone can conclude there seems to be an issue with the juju angle. Assuming that Raji is correct, then what will be his motive for damning his coach?
Coach Gabriel Johns is one of the most intelligent coaches in the country. He has always been selected to lead a demonstration at CAF coaching seminars, and I have been told privately that he stands out among the crowd.
“He understands the game better than most coaches,” CAF’s Ghanaian coaching instructor, Anthony Edusei told me at the recent License B Seminar which Coach Johns made the highest score, in both practical and theoretical presentation of coaching instructions.
While Coach Johns and his president are not under investigation, I think the juju angle is an interesting event.
A source from LISCR FC told me, “Three years ago, I know that LISCR FC visited Johnsonville and carried a sacrifice, by killing a goat when the team was losing all their games.” Whether coincident or not, that sacrifice, coupled with changes in the team brought success thereafter. Can juju claim that credit?
For example, reports from New Kru Town indicate that Monrovia Club Breweries FC has won all its home games, except three.
“Breweries defeated all their games because they entered through the main gate at the D. Twe sports field,” a resident told me.
“The three games they lost two and drew one, the teams jumped over the fence and did not come through the main gate,” he explained.
New Kru Sub-committee chairman Alfred Kofa also admitted that Breweries’ last three games against LISCR FC; NPA and BYC that the teams jumped over the fence, did not go well with Breweries.
Though Kofa said jumping over the fence is against the rule, “We could not do anything to stop them.”
Whatever the case is or your conclusion is, the fact remains that there is a high perception of outside forces that can be invoked to help a team an encounter.
Interestingly, whether it is true and realistic is a debate that will continue as far as there are issues in which the end justifies the means.