It’s been eighteen years since teenage Liberian footballers made the biggest news in participating in the world’s largest youth international football tournament, The Gothia Cup, staged annually in Sweden since they participated from 1997 to 1999 under Henry Brown (now LFA technical director).
The Liberian side won the U-13, U-14 and U-15 competitions on successive occasions, with players such as Zah Kranga, Dioh Williams, Dulee Johnson, Melvin King, Ezekiel Doekpa (now Nimba County Kickball Coach) and Nicodemus Jacobs. That group of Liberian young footballers should have been at the U-16 the following year, but financial difficulties ended their dream.
Now Madam Maria Luyken, the owner of Luyken FC and Destiny Entertainment Center, has stepped in to ensure a Liberian side participates in The Gothia Cup in Sweden in July.
At a news conference on Thursday, Madam Luyken said the absence of Liberia from the Gothia Cup has hindered the progress of many Liberian young footballers and therefore it is cardinal to ensure that they are provided with the best opportunities to play at international youth tournaments across the world.
Luyken FC, an offspring of the Luyken Sports Village has been invited by the Gothia Cup organizers to participate in the 2017 Gothia Cup Under 17 Tournament from July 16-22, 2017 in Goteborg, Sweden.
She said her organization has made a commitment to compete at the tournament and every international youth tournament each year to ensure Liberian young footballers are exposed to the rest of the world.
She said providing young Liberians the opportunities to play football at a professional level will help Liberia in its economic growth.
At the news conference, the Liberia Football Association Acting President Musa Shannon and Youth and Sports Minister Saah Charles N’Tow commended the Luyken Sports Village for the opportunities provided the young Liberians to travel to Sweden.
Both Minister N’Tow and Mr. Shannon pledged their respective entities’ commitment to the process to ensure that the young Liberians’ trip to the Gothia Cup tournament becomes a success.
They said Liberia needs to have their young talents at international events.
To participate in the Gothia Cup tournament, the Luyken FC needs a total of US$95, 010 to register and sponsor the team to Nigeria for visas and to Goteborg, Sweden.
The Luyken FC Chief Executive Officer said the club needs the help from meaningful Liberians to ensure that the trip is a success.
The players of the Luyken FC were formerly unveiled Saturday at the Destiny Entertainment Center on the Bypass during the final of the UEFA Champions League final which was televised at the entertainment center.