Passionate sports lovers who on Monday, January 27, 2014 listened to the over two hours of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s address to the nation could not fail to recognize the blank attention she paid to the development of a quality national soccer team.
Obsessive fans, who are now addicted to European soccer, had apparently expected the President of Liberia to raise their hopes and direct their focus, as part of the government’s development agenda to ‘love their own better’ as a formidable national team is developed, despite the challenges.
They wanted to hear President Sirleaf, who, reliable sources have informed the Daily Observer was a devoted soccer player, about her government’s determination to raise their hope to develop, not only the national soccer team, but also other national teams in volleyball, taekwondo and athletics.
Many soccer fans saw the president’s low attention to the regular national soccer team as her dissatisfaction on the numerous disappointments, particularly in her presence whenever the national team represented the country in highly competitive contests.
The president found it difficult when Lone Star crumbled before the Super Eagles of Nigeria; surrendered at the feet of Senegal and in crashed out against Angola.
“Where are the young people who are supposed to take over the country tomorrow,” she might have asked, “when they are unable to stand against their counterparts?”
The Liberia Football Association is armed with a 5-year national soccer development program that sources informed the Daily Observer a copy is with the president’s office.
If this information is true, how come the president did not make any comment about this ambitious project? That the president took consolation in the achievements of the other Lone Star, the amputee, argues further against the government’s spite and its unpreparedness to invest in the regular Lone Star.
True, Cellcom GSM has renewed a whopping USD685, 000.00 three-year sponsorship agreement for Liberian football, including the national league as well as the Lone Star.
In reality, developing the national team requires more than that what Cellcom GSM has graciously offered the LFA. And like the difficulties facing Liberia’s transformation agenda, sports are facing their own challenges, and the GOL must commit to their development.
Those countries who have achieved much success in sports invested much and they are reaping much. It is time for the GOL to demonstrate its willingness to make colossal investments in sports. That is, if we expect our young players to give off impressive performances against their opponents in highly competitive tournaments.
“Sports have proved to be a major catalyst for peace, reconciliation and development,” President Sirleaf said, with references to the 2012/2013 and the 2013/2014 County Meets. But in actuality, it is the Lone Star that unites all Liberians for a common goal. The president is also correct when she said the meet provide short-term employment opportunities for 1,365 youth athletes in the last county meet.
However, to use one example, the Liberia Football Association’s 3rd, 4th, 2nd and 1st division leagues, along with the female league, provide long term employment for over 9,000 young Liberians throughout the country.
The choice is ours; either the GOL invests in short term employment or in long term employment for athletes, in our search for peace, unity, reconciliation and development.
But it stands to reason that sports men and women, and particularly ardent followers of the regular national team were disappointed in the president’s cold shoulder to the future of the Lone Star.