President Sirleaf Cannot Ignore Lone Star

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The CAF Orange African Nations ended last Saturday in South Africa with Libya defeating the Black Stars of Ghana for the title.

In that tournament, Liberia’s Lone Star could not qualify. Though the Orange Nations Cup is meant for players who have not gone abroad, Liberia could not raise and prepared quality players for the tournament.

The finals of the next Orange Nations Cup tournament will be held in Morocco, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 7, 2015. The tournament will be held in four cities: Rabat, Agadir, Tanger and Marrakech.

The draw for the preliminary and qualifying rounds will be announced on April 27, 2014 in Cairo, Egypt. There will be 7 Groups of 4 teams each with the two top teams moving on for the finals in Morocco.

Will Liberia be among the contestants in Morocco? But before that I think the appropriate question is: will Liberia participate in the preliminary rounds?

Information from the LFA indicates that it is no longer interested to canvass for funds to develop the national team.

“The LFA cannot afford to raise money outside of the Government of Liberia to support the national team,” a source at the LFA told the Daily Observer.

The Observer also learned, FA president Musa Bility has made it clear that his administration is now interested in the U17 and the U20 national teams.

“If the Government of Liberia cannot invest in the national team, then so be it,” another source informed the Daily Observer.

That the Government of Liberia is not interested in the national team, Lone Star, was by implication made clear, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made her report to the nation.

“What did she say about the national team?” asked an LFA official, who asked for anonymity because he was not asked to speak for the association, “President Sirleaf said nothing about Lone Star.”

And perhaps that settles the matter.

In the government’s Transformation Agenda, unity through sports is a principle and it appears government can achieve that through the annual County Sports Meet and not through Liberia’s participation in matches organized by CAF and FIFA.

The Government of Liberia has a budget of USD500, 000.00 for the national team. That amount cannot provide the necessary support in cash and in kind for the national team.

As a result, on numerous occasions, Lone Star’s preparations were delayed and the results have been disappointing.

In the last three and half years, besides the USD500, 000.00, the LFA has been able to find additional support from its agreement with Cellcom GSM.

“We can better utilize that money for the U17 and U20 teams where we think we can make better representation,” the official said.

Correspondingly, as countries in the sub-region made huge investments in developing sportsmen and women, Liberia stands alone unable to make such an investment.

What is also surprising is that many who have stakes in the Lone Star’s fortunes are not making noise about the government’s lack of interest in the team’s development.

Perhaps President Sirleaf has forgotten so quickly her promise to ensure that Liberian youths develop to achieve higher athletic excellence, ready to take on their counterparts in the sub-region and the world with honor.

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