Upon hearing its name, many Liberians are at once reminded of inspiring and horrible moments. But of course, despite those good and bad moments, the memories of the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Sports Complex will never fade away.
Built in 1986, the SKD sports complex continues to record moments that will go down in history. Some of these historical moments date back to the 80’s during the regime of the man the facility was named after, former President Samuel K. Doe.
Ironically, as some sort of twisted fate, the stadium was actually commissioned by President William Tolbert, who the then Master Sergeant Doe fatally removed in a 1980 coup d’état. Eventually, the sports complex became the home of the national team, the Lone Star, and a place of attraction, where thousands of Liberians could not afford to miss the home games of the national team during probably its most memorable performing days.
Although Liberia was later hit by civil unrests, the facility became a unifier. Warring factions laid down their arms to assemble at the stadium to watch their national team play, which lessened as the war intensified. Nevertheless, at the height of the war, the stadium became an area of protection where thousands sought refuge as there was nowhere safe to seek shelter. Thanks to Providence, those bad old days have been firmly relegated to the past, where it is hoped they would stay.
It was also at the SKD that most of the country got to witness the skills of our most talented footballers, including no less than our new President, George Manneh Weah, and his cohorts.
Arguably, the most memorable moment so far must be Monday’s hosting of the inaugural ceremony of Liberia’s 24th president, George Weah.
The national legislature on January 19 adopted and signed a Joint Resolution to change the venue and city of the 2018 Inauguration from the Capitol Building in Monrovia to the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville – the first time this has ever happened.
Moreover, this occasion reminded the newly elected president of his personal adventures against other national teams.
“The Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, renovated by the Chinese, where this inaugural ceremony is being held, is where I gained my exposure to the football world. It does not only stand as a monument of Chinese friendship toward Liberians, but it also stands as a symbol of peace and reconciliation for the Liberian people,” Weah said in his inaugural speech.
“Today we stand at this venue united for one purpose: Liberia. This is the time that we put away our political differences to work together in forging a new Liberia, where the affordability of all goods and services will no longer be a luxury of the privileged, but rather a right for all Liberians.”
Not only will this venue be remembered by President Weah for its part in his march to his ascendancy of the nation’s highest position, it will also be remembered by the thousands of Liberians who fought their way through its gates to witness an inaugural ceremony for all times – the first and historic democratic transition of power from one democratically elected president to another since 1944.
SKD will always remain ‘A Stadium of Memories.’