The gathering afternoon heat subsided as the Asky Aircraft touched down at the James Spriggs Payne Airfield carrying the nine-man Street Child Team Liberia last Thursday afternoon.
The delegation: Daniel, Elijah, Fallah, Foday, Joseph, Leon, Saah, Soko, Zwannah, coach Samuel Burnette and program manager Michael John Bull.
At last Thursday’s arrival, their parents were on hand to shower their gratitude and to welcome their heroes back home.
In the slum township of West Point, where the majority of the team members reside, there was jubilation among friends and family members.
At the tournament, wich was held Friday, March 28 through Thursday, April 10, 2014, the Liberians overcame teams such as Egypt and South Africa to reach the quarter-finals, but lost to Burundi.
The Liberians also beat Team United States 3-1 in a friendly against the Americans.
The children are part of a larger group picked from the streets by Street Child Liberia, a non-profit organization, with support from Street Child UK.
Its volunteer workers spend time identifying talented children who spend most of their time in the streets.
“These are children who live and survive as well as sleep on the street,” said Public Relations Officer, Tarsha Mathies Jackson.
Street Child of Liberia eventually reunites the children in its program with their parents, pays their two-year school fees and afterward ensures their parents have sustainable incomes to keep their children at home.
“The trip has provided the children a new perspective,” said Coach Samuel N. Burnette, lll, “they are now back home as ‘ambassadors’ to carry out the message.”
Program Manager Michael John Bull told journalists, “The tournament provided them the platform to address their issues and to encourage the government to attend to their needs.”
Parents expressed their gratitude to Street Child Liberia, and promised to ensure that their children stay off the street.
Street Child Liberia team-member Fallah said, “The experience in Brazil is great and I was glad to be there and to come back home to carry the message.”
Teams from 19 countries participated, including the boys' and girls' teams from Brazil, who won the championship. Zimbabwe, India, Mozambique, Nicaragua, England, El Salvador and South Africa. Liberia, Egypt, Burundi, Pakistan, Mauritius and several others were represented.