Presidential Honor for Lone Star

President William Richard Tolbert_web.jpg

Though successive Liberian governments never made it a policy to ensure that sports receive adequate money for development, there are times when an athlete was recognized for his commitment to his country.

As the accompanied picture indicates, such was the case in the life of former Lone Star player Solomon Sipley, who finally resettled in the United States.

It was long before the time of Soccer Legend, George Manneh and long before plenty money came into sports. Sipley was a regular player on the national soccer team, Lone Star, leading his team-mates into remarkable victories.

True, it was not until 1996 that Liberia first qualified for the prestigious African Cup of Nations, the Lone Star previous to that auspicious year, and despite the lack of financial support, showed much better dedication, for the love of the game and country.

There is a story of sacrifice, for instance when the national team traveled for a foreign assignment, sources said in Ghana, when the players were told that money or per diems intended for them were already in Ghana.

As the story went, when the players arrived in Ghana, they learned to their chagrin that their per diem would be coming to Accra, Ghana later.

And so for the love of country and the game, the players, some say the incredible David Momoh, judged as one of the best goalkeepers of Africa at the time, was part of that Lone Star group.

After an impressive performance where the national team proved exceptionally great against their Ghanaian opponents, the players found out that there was no money set aside as per diem for them.

While today one can sense the anger that might have run through the players, they nevertheless showed their commitment to the national cause and returned home penniless but to a glorious cheers of appreciation by the teeming Liberian soccer fans.

Perhaps, when the Lone Star won the 6-nation football tournament in Monrovia in 1979, one of the historic victories Liberian football can fall on as its glorious moment, President William Richard Tolbert, according to Sayon ‘Experience’ Davis of New Kru Town, the president invited the team to his Bentol residence.

“When we got there,” Sayon explained, “we were kept at another venue and when President Tolbert inquired of us and learned we had been kept away from him, he was so furious.”

Sayon said President Tolbert gave immediate orders for the ‘heroes of Liberia’ to dine with him.

“It was the first time I saw President Tolbert,” admitted Sayon, in an interview. “President Tolbert gave each of us players a purse of appreciation.”

Now fast forward to the period of 1982-90. It was one of remarkable growth for Liberian soccer. That was the priod that brought out soccer legend George Weah, James Debbah, Kervin Sebwe and the rest of the George Weah X1. But it was a growth that was supported by President Samuel Kanyon Doe.

With still limited budgetary allocation to develop Liberian sports, the Liberian version has always been the largess of the president of the country, which was ably demonstrated by former President Charles Ghankay Taylor, during his administration that brought out the famous GEORGE WEAH X1.

Now we are back to square one and with the Ebola virus disease cleaning out the vestiges of the glorious past, we may need President Sirleaf to help boost the revival of Liberian sports.


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