Jonathan Armah Baxter, former striker of Bomi County, Bame, Mighty Barolle, St. Joseph’s Warriors and finally the NPA-Anchors Football Club shows little emotion, for he is as tough as the hills of Bomi County.
But when it comes to the demise of footballers who held his hands, at one time and encouraged him to pursue his dream as a footballer, and those he played along with, the apparent lack of interest by sports officials at both the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia Football Association leave him with many questions.
This year, Jonathan Armah Baxter was at a church where former Bomi County strongman Mark Fino’s funeral was held, and sadly there was no sports official presence to support the family as well as bid the deceased goodbye.
Then at the funeral of former Lone Star and Invincible Eleven player, Pete Roberts, in Monrovia’s Bardnersville, who was also the immediate past president of the LFA Sub-Association in Bomi County, there was no sport official present.
“At least it is at such an occasion that Liberia should honor her heroes,” J. Armah Baxter said, out of frustration.
When Baxter learned that there was no material or financial assistance to those mentioned above; and there was also none to the late Victor Sieh, who had died several months previously, he was filled with shame.
“This should not be happening to athletes who made the country proud when they were so young and made it a necessity for Liberia to be recognized in sports,” Baxter told journalists at the time.
And when last Thursday, December 19, when there was no official from either the LFA or the Ministry of Youth and Sports during the funeral of former St. Joseph’s Warriors’ President David L. Bropleh, held in Monrovia, Jonathan Baxter thought it was too much to let it go without a comment.
But when he learned that neither the Ministry of Youth and Sports nor the LFA has a standing policy instructing the two organizations about what must be done from them in a period of death, Baxter said sports officials should by now have crafted such a policy.
“This should not be too difficult,” Baxter said, “I hope that the ministry and the football association should be thinking about this.”
Though the LFA provided U$300 towards the late Bropleh’s home-going but provided more than U$10,000 to the late Frank Seator’s family, the disparity did not sit well with the one-time goal-poacher, Baxter.
“No one needs to demand stakeholders to see the need to come up with a policy that spells out the standard contribution from the LFA towards the funeral of its members,” Armah said.
In reaction LFA Secretary General Alphonso Armah yesterday told the Daily Observer that while crafting such a policy may not be an ideal solution, the LFA has always been supportive of families who lose members who were once affiliated with the football association.
“On many occasions family members who decided to inform the LFA whenever there was a former affiliate who died, only sent a letter informing the LFA about the home-going without informing the association its intended role.
“In such an occasion,” Secretary General Armah said, “it makes it difficult to know what the family wants the LFA to do.”
He said LFA Boss, Musa Bility is sympathetic to issues that affect anyone connected to the association but pointed out that whatever conditions that might have happened in the past, the LFA stands well prepared to console any of its members in the best available material and financial support possible.
Secretary Armah said the LFA takes decisions on a case by case basis when there are funds available and therefore it is unfortunate that at a particular point in the past it seemed that more attention was paid to support the home-going of others than others.
“Once the LFA is aware of the recommendations of a particular situation,” SG Armah said, “we work with the family to provide needed contribution as much as we can.”