The national football team, Lone Star, yesterday failed to win a simple game to give honor to Chief Patron Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The team lost 0-2 to their Mauritanian counterparts to the shame of many.
However, still to recognize the President’s contribution to the development of sports, a two-day soccer and kickball tournament is scheduled to take place at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex with the last County Sports Meet big guns participating.
The counties are Monsterrado, Nimba, Maryland and Margibi. The main reason for the two-day tournament, according to the assistant minister Murvee Gray, is to recognize the president’s numerous contributions that ensured that Liberian teams were always provided for financially to represent the country in international competitions.
Cataloguing President Sirleaf’s support, Minister Gray recounted the government’s decision to get a foreign coach for the national team at a huge cost, with the intention that the country would benefit from his expertise.
“A German coach was contracted for a period of one year to develop the national team, who was selected following a vetting process,” he said. He added that during President Sirleaf’s leadership, the perennial conflict that had existed between the Liberia Football Association and the Ministry of Youth & Sports about who controls the national team was resolved.
“The senior national team was financed to participate in the 2010 Nations and World Cup qualifying rounds, though the team did not qualify after six games,” he said.
The junior national team also reached the quarter-finals of the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) competition held in Nigeria.
He said the female Homeless World Cup, held in Melbourne, Australia saw a Liberian team among 56 countries, with Liberia finishing second place.
“The U-14 soccer team also participated in a youth tournament, sponsored by Olympique Afrique in Dakar, Senegal and Liberia reached third place,” Minister Gray said. “The government provided financial subsidies to the Liberia National Olympic Committee.” he said.
He said the national Amputee Team won their tournament held in Monrovia, organized by the Amputee Football Federation of Africa, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth & Sports and the Liberia Football Association from March-April in 2008.
“That tournament was named in honor of President Ellen Sirleaf and Liberia came first, among countries like Sierra Leone, Angola and Nigeria,” he noted.
Minister Gray said the national volleyball team participated in the Zone Three Competition in La Cote d’Ivoire and finished third place.
He explained that the National Wrestling Federation attended a championship competition in Istanbul, Turkey; the national taekwondo team attended a competition in Seoul, South Korea and the swimming team attended the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
“Judo, karate and athletics were supported to their various competitions which showed the president’s persistent support to sporting bodies, despite their results, hoping that they would do better in the future,” he said.
From 2006 up to the present, he said the National County Sports Meet has been rebranded under the theme: Sports for Peace and Development, and the rebranding is under the theme: Sports for Healthy Life.
“In the wake of these numerous supports, among others, we think playing these games in her honor is the best thing to do,” Minister Gray said.