A Liberian agent based in the United States, Deo Shamo Jlopleh has called on the government to invest in sports, especially football, if the country ought to improve in that sector.
Jlopleh made the call Wednesday, October 24, in an interview in Monrovia. He said there is a need for football to improve after years in which the country has been regarded as an ‘underdog in Africa at both club and national team levels.’
“We have witnessed with great dismay, the Lone Star, our nation’s pride, losing its place in world of football. Growing up in a nation where every child plays football and seeing the competitiveness of the game and the raw competing talents at the level of our communities, schools and everywhere, it beats my imagination why we are ranked 155th in FIFA ranking today, when just 2001 we were the 66th best football country in the world,” he said.
According to former footballer turned agent, after 12 years of peace, the war should not be an excuse for the backwardness of the game in the country.
“Liberia has the raw and natural talents to lead African football and compete at the world level, so I refuse to believe that such talents have been depleted. I believe we have failed as a country to identify football as a commodity that gives us competitive advantage by investing in both human and material to have us compete with other nations,” he said.
He added, “Football has huge economic potential, and those who invest massively in it are rewarded with great economic benefits. The demand for football has caused capital inflow into the game and investors with more purchasing power are buying the best and wealthy teams and these teams are paying for the best players. The concept of capitalism plays a major role in the game today, and until Liberia takes a good look at the game, we will continue to fall below our records of yesterday.”
Jlopleh, also a co-founder and president of the MED Sports Management, and the MED Soccer Foundation in Liberia, wants the Government and the Liberia Football Association to join other countries in the new trend to invest in the game, creating means for potential players to be given opportunity to showcase their skills at international competitions.
“Our national league is still substandard. We need to draw up a more competitive league that will ensure our teams play more games coupled with a branding and marketing strategy that markets our plan, outlining our advantages,” he said.
Dubbed “Shamo,” Jlopleh had a short football career playing for third division side Invader FC and Roza FC in Liberia and later Blessing FC and Buduburam FC in Ghana, where he sustained a knee injury that ended his young playing career.
He has over the years promoted young players around the world, securing deals for them in the Asian league such as Myanmar Premier League, Indian Super League, Malaysian Super League and Thailand League.