The need to learn the rudiments of soccer to an appreciable level, and to also promote sports and education, has fired the Monrovia Football Academy (MFA) into action to chart a new course to develop talented players for the future.
The MFA has two primary objectives, said co-founder and Director, Will Smith, which are to address the constant failing in education and to address the illegal transfer of Liberian players abroad, as it was recently reported in Laos. In that report several young Liberian footballers went to Laos without the required paperwork that led to problems.
“We combine sport with education to create in the children a new focus,” Smith said in an interview. “We also teach them life skills on how to interact with each other.”
With abundant talent, Smith said young Liberians deserve professional coaching and quality education from an early age. That’s why from Monday to Thursday 30 kids (both boys and girls) spend more than seven hours to have fun with football.
Though Smith is an American, his co-founder, head coach and community coordinator is Liberian Sekou Dgeorges Manubah. Smith insists that he wants the program to be a Liberian initiative so that in the near future he could move on to an advisory role and make the program a truly Liberian initiative.
Smith said he is does not share the popular belief that outsiders have the solution for what is wrong here in Liberia. “I take advice from my Liberian friends; and besides me, every other member is a Liberian.”
At the visit to the training ground last Monday at the Blue Field, near the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia, Smith and Manubah (both professional coaches) had 26 kids divided in two groups of 10 and 16 respectively, tooking the youngsters through the rudiments of the game.
The children eagerly followed instructions, as the coaches carefully explained, repeatedly at every juncture, a particular aspect of the game so that the children can assimilate or internalize “to let it come out naturally in the future.”
Though the young players ran around with excitement as the training continued, the coaches seemed to enjoy what they were teaching, handling each of the group with keen but remarkable attention.
The young players enjoyed a thirty minute lecture on the concepts of football every morning before regular physical and tactical training. And after regular training ends at 11:30am, they rush to shower nearby and proceed to have their food especially prepared for them.
Smith said, “We recognize that after training the children need nutritious meals to build their bodies before proceeding to class from 1-5:30pm.”
They train from Monday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday are reserved for classes, Smith said. The Monrovia Football Academy has its own website: http://www.monroviafa.com/home/
With support from partners, including the Saracens Sports Foundation of the United Kingdom, friends, including Liberians in the US, the Monrovia Football Academy’s dream is to take advantage of the abundant natural soccer talents and turn them into gold.