Nearly twenty years ago, the local soccer landscape was dominated by ‘Darling Club’ Invincible Eleven and Mighty Barrolle (The Rollers).
At the time, among supporters of Invincible Eleven were three great friends—Lydia Jones, Tonia Klay and Kaddieatu Darra (now Mrs. Kaddieatu Findley).
They were at every game at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, offering their moral support to their Darling Club, also known as ‘Sunshine Yellow Boys.’
“They encouraged the players and I remember it was the time when players like Sam Sumo, Kai Jerbo, Ben Morthy, Theo Weeks and even Ezekiel Doe, among others, were making their mark on Liberian football,” said a long time follower of Liberian football.
The above players played for Invincible Eleven, which suffered at the time because most of the players left for the United States.
“It was always a setback for the team as IE had to regroup and rebuild for the future,” he said. The three friends also provided financial support to their favorite players and the players did not disappoint them.
Ms. Jones, after several years in the United States, returned home recently with a group identified as D’Company.
D’Company describes itself as dedicated men and women in the Diaspora united with a single vision to provide support to address hunger as it affects children ages 5-17.
D’Company is headed by Charles B. Blake Sr, as chief executive officer, but Ms. Jones is responsible for its social affairs, because of her experience in dealing with people.
At the January 7 inauguration of D’Company’s ‘Kids Extravaganza’ held at the Alpha Oldtimers Sports Pitch in Paynesville, 1000 children converged and received food and other goodies.
Mr. Blake collaborated with Mr. Phillip Gibson, who since 2014 has been providing at his own expense and those of his friends and well wishers, free meals every Saturday to 400 kids in central Monrovia.
Gibson is the executive director of the Florence Bracewell Lardner Children Foundation, with the theme, “If I can Help Someone My Living Will Not Be in Vain.”
“The young man’s passion to help kids to know that they are loved is beyond compare,” said a resident on Gurley Street whose kids are beneficiaries of Gibson’s foundation.
Though fighting hunger is at the core of D’Company’s vision, Ms. Jones has not forgotten the football organization that she, along with others, mentored in the glorious years of Liberian football. Information close to
Ms. Jones says that she has brought her widow’s mite, a package for Invincible Eleven, as the team struggles in the Liberia Football Association league.
D’Company has an ambitious program to seek funds abroad to construct a chain of youth centers in all of Liberia’s 15 counties to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry.
“These centers would provide mentorship and counseling for kids with complex domestic situations, such as alcohol, sex and drug abuse, incest, child labor, among others,” according to a brochure released on January 7.
Perhaps Lydia Jones realizes many strange changes in Liberia, particularly about football, and must be aware of the most vulnerable group in the country, for which she has joined others at home and abroad to provide assistance, with Gibson’s foundation showing the way.