The stay of the Amputee Lone Star in the United States, fearing the threat of an unfounded punishment upon return in the country, is embarrassing and would put at risk the traveling chances of other athletes to honoring invitations to the United States.
Youth and Sports Minister Lenn Eugne Nagbe said though the deceptive behavior of the Amputee Lone Star in participating in a US Amputees tournament is unacceptable and annoying, they are appealing to the players to return home and avoid ‘negatively branding’ other sporting associations if they too have invitations.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer yesterday amidst reports that the players are stranded in the United States Minister Nagbe said the Ministry is exerting all efforts for their return.
He said the players so-called being trapped in the US is their own making because a round-trip ticket of a 15-member dedication of the team was provided.
The Minister said US$15,000 was given to the Amputee Lone for operations and per-diem and an additional US$1,000 was transferred for local transportation, besides hundreds of dollars they collected during their fund raising campaign and the pawning of their bus for US$5,000.
The Minister intoned that the round-trip tickets are still valid for six months and would be updated for their return.
He said their embarrassing appeal to the Amputee Lone is in line with a formal complain from the US Government, expressing “displeasure’ over their discomfort situation in the US and diplomatically urging the Liberian government to ensure their return home.
Minister Nagbe also clarified that amidst fear of lack of support; the government would still support the three-time African champions, because the Chief Patron of Sports, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has a ‘very and complete soft heart’ for them because of their physical challenged conditions.
“While we are encouraging them to come back home despite their unacceptable behavior, we are also working on modalities to retrieve the bus that they pawned,” Minister Nagbe said.
“We want to continue to encourage them to come back home for us to work together because what they are doing is illegal — and we are afraid that it would affect other athletes and associations from going to America,” he stated.
Minister Nagbe also told the Daily Observer that the US National Amputee Soccer Team and the World Amputee Federation have also frowned on the ‘unacceptable’ behavior of the Amputee Lone Star players.
According to the VOA, Cooper Melvin Goteh, president of the Liberia Amputee Soccer Association, admitted that they knew the tournament in August was cancelled but went with the trip to explain to the world the deplorable conditions under which they live in Liberia.
He said they lacked decent housing, education, and food and many have turned to panhandling in front of hotels.