The Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs has set the Annual National County Meet in March.
Assistant Sports Minister Murvee Gray said the County Meet would officially begin in March and run through the Easter Week in April, and might last for about three weeks.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer yesterday Assistant Minister Gray said owing to the ongoing renovation at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, only the fixtures for the football and kickball editions of the 2015 National County Sports have been finalized.
He noted that the fixtures were prepared in cooperation with the Liberia Football Association and the Kickball Federation.
Assistant Minister Gray said the official program for the kickoff of the County Meet will be held in Sanniqullie, Nimba County; and all the 15 counties have been placed in four regional groups for the first rounds to be played at venues in Nimba, Bong, Grand Gedeh and Margibi Counties.
According to the pairing, Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, defending football champions Grand Bassa and Maryland Counties are in Group I. Games in this group will be played in Sanniquellie, Nimba County.
Bong, River Gee, Sinoe and Bomi Counties are members of group II. Games in this group will be played in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Group III: Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Rivercess and Grand Kru Counties to meet in Zwedru as their game venue, while Margibi, Montserrado and Gbapolu Counties come face to face in Kakata of group IV.
The two finalists in each group for the football and kickball disciplines will play the finals (which include from the quarter to the grand finals) in the Port City of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
“The inclusion and fixtures for volleyball, basketball and track and field events have not been decided,” Assistant Sports Minister Gray said. “However, over the weekend, I led a team to inspect Bong County, while Youth and Sports Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe and Deputy Sports Minister Henry Yonton went to Buchanan to finalize arrangements.”
Prior to the National County Meet, there will be two county sports coordinators, designated referees, and statisticians as a way of preparing them for the competition.
However, the Assistant Sports Minister said, the Ministry is exerting every effort to solicit sponsorships amid the budgetary constrains to timely begin the distribution of sporting materials and cash to counties for preparation.
Though he had not stated how much the Liberian government will be spending for the 2015 National County Meet, he said the huge financial burden of tournament will be outsourced through sponsorships.
In time past, especially as of 2006, the government spent at least US$350,000 annually for the National County Meet.
In the 2014 County Meet, Grand Bassa County captured the football trophy after defeating Nimba County 2-1, at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in the suburb of Paynesville before a capacity crowd of more than 45,000 spectators. The Gbehzohn boys also won the basketball trophy after defeating Bong County 75 to 55, points.
Bong County clinched the Kickball trophy, walking over Sinoe County in the grand final of the kick-ball tournament, while Nimba County won the Volley Ball trophy, defeating defending champion Bomi County.
The National County Sports Meet inaugurated in 1956, is an annual sporting festival organized and hosted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The event is primarily a platform intended to forge national unity and reconciliation.
Meanwhile, according to Assistant Minister Gray, the Upcountry Basketball Tournament, which is expected to bring to the fore six schools will be held before the National County Meet.
The Upcountry Basketball Tournament runs from March 13 to March 16, 2015 at the auditorium of the William V.S. Tubman-Gray United Methodist High School in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Schools expected to feature in the tournament include: Gboveh High School, host William V.S. Tubman-Gray United Methodist High School and the St. Martin Lutheran High School in Bong County.
The rest are the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Margibi County; St. Mary’s Catholic School in Nimba County and the Voinjama Multilateral High School in Lofa County.