Realizing Dreams Through the Development of Grassroots Football

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Players of young boys United FC at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium for their debut in the Montserrado County Championship playoffs (Photo credit: Levis Kerzuah)

It has been a little over a year since Levis Kerzuah and three others founded a grassroots football club in the Bernard’s Farm community, Paynesville. Kerzuah along with Agatho Blehsue, Joshua Diahkpo, and Gabriel Saydee nurtures the same aspiration as many Liberians – to see the improvement of grassroots football in Liberia and the transition of promising talents from grassroots level to professional.

On July 6, 2016 the four gentlemen founded a football club, Young Boys United FC, nicknamed: ‘Islanders.’ This was done with a vision to promote grassroots football and young talents.

The club started as a non-division football club and several talented and disciplined players ranging from age 15-23 were recruited from the community. Most of them are high school graduates.

Like many football clubs and academies in Liberia, Young Boys United FC struggled with getting financial support. Kerzuah, who works at the Ministry of Health, is the lead financier of the club, spending his salary to attend to the needs of the team.

In Liberia, many football clubs tread a similar path. Several clubs like Young Boys United FC are formed and run by few individuals, but subsequently dissolve due to lack of financial support.

However, Kerzuah and his team are knowledgeable about challenges. They kept holding to their dreams and expectations, and started to recruit and evaluate players by playing friendly and test matches with other non-division and division clubs. The team delivered some classic performances and the players displayed their individual talents.

The results and teamwork displayed proved the team’s readiness to compete. Without any further delays and their eagerness to prove their worth, the Islanders registered to participate in the 2016/2017 league season of the Mount Barclay sub-committee.

Even though they were league debutants, the Islanders broke through the storm and came out on top of a group of six teams after 10 games, thus qualifying for the Montserrado County championship playoffs.

Their preparation was impeccable and their expectation, high. Unfortunately, the team found it difficult to battle with tough opponents in the playoffs, which led to their failure to advance to the next stage. But that’s the game of football: unexpected things happen, and there will always be winners and losers.

However, Kerzuah and his team viewed the outcome as an achievement and a challenge to better prepare for the upcoming season.

“We had a great debut season and are going to work on our mistakes to come back stronger,” he said.

With just a year of existence, Kerzuah has begun realizing his dreams as a grassroots football club president. In his quest for sponsorship, Kerzuah was fortunate to come in contact with a Liberian international football player – Emile Damey, who plies his football career in Kuwait and is the founder of a non profit organization ‘Boots4Liberia.’

“We signed a two-year sponsorship deal with his organization and it is working very well for us as a team,” Kerzuah said. But that’s not all. Recently, another sponsor was added to the list of club sponsors – an Australian based group ‘Boot Them On.’

“Our dreams and aspirations for youth football development are becoming a reality; we are proud to be a part of the growth of Liberian sports,” he stated.

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