Periscoping Liberian Soccer
-Merits and Demerits
By Bill B. Blamo
Liberian soccer has come of age and no doubt the apparent success of
the country's national soccer team, the Lone Star, should be
As history states, Liberian soccer began to come into the fore when
the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe gave soccer some recognition in
contrast to the old adage of 'football was gronah boy's game'.
Football was given so much national attention by the Doe's
Administration to an extent where huge amounts of hard currency of the
people's taxes were directed.
Liberian soccer also benefitted during that regime by witnessing the
completion of a modern sport stadium named: the Samuel Kanyon Doe
Soccer technicians at the time decided to use these monies wisely were
they turned to improve Liberian soccer by turning to the Brazilian
soccer for improvement. As we all may know, the Lone Star at that time
was privileged to go over to Brazil to get a taste of the Brazilian
No doubt that Liberian soccer has to improve since then because, with
such talents of our boys being tapped in this great nation, and the
infusion of some Brazilians on the team by naturalizing them as
Liberian citizens to play on the national team, strengthened the Lone
Star. Those Brazilians included Carlos Sergio, Striker; Luis
Nancimento and Filho Doracy, defenders; and Eddie Mathies, goalkeeper.
Let us be aware that before then Liberia had great players in the
likes of the legendary Waniboe Toe, Nyenetu 'Santos Maria' Browne,
Paul Broh, John 'Monkey' Brown, Gladstone Ofori, Mass Sarr, Sr., and
Borbor Gaye, just to name a few. But the set of players with the
Brazilian stints proved to be greater. Some of these include Mark
Gibson, Robert 'Break Dancer' Clarke, Pewu 'Best Best' Bestman, Joe
'Armstrong' Nagbe, James Salinsa Debbah, and the greatest of them all,
George Oppong Weah, etc.
However, the coming into the fore of these talents was the birth of
classical and competitive soccer in the Liberian soccer history.
In 1988, the Lone Star hosted the Zone III Tournament, where she
became a force to reckon with. It was only in the grand final the
Ghana Black Stars clinched the trophy by trouncing the Liberian Lone
As of then, Liberian soccer began to rise to fascinating heights. The
continent began to witness a new breed of soccer talents from this
region of Africa when great nations started falling prey to the Lone
This generation of Liberian soccer stars has done so much in making
Liberian soccer to be given continental and world attention by coming
very close to the World Cup Finals twice in 1990 and 2002 and two
qualifications to the African Cup of Nations in 1996 and 2002. Thanks
to the longest-serving Liberian soccer quartet for this feat. These
include Joe Nagbe, Kelvin Sebwe, James Salinsa and George Weah. These
soccer compatriots have been together for a little over 14 years now.
All of these successes and achievements wouldn't have been without the
countless input of the greatest of them all George Oppong Weah, one of
the finest soccer species that ever walked the earth. He is the secret
of Liberia's soccer success.
George Weah started his professional career playing for Tonnerre Klara
Club in Cameroun as a semi-pro and then moved over to A.S. Monaco in
France as a full-bright professional player. He later moved to Paris
Saint-Germaine where he rose as a world class player. His exceptional
performance at that time won him a space on one of the world's
greatest soccer clubs, A.C. Milan.
Since moving to Europe in 1988, Weah had always won for himself
numerous honors, titles and laurels including the famous 1995 triple
sweep, as Africa, Europe and World's Best Footballer. The best of
awards that he has won is the Greatest African Footballer of the 20th
Century. This award surpasses all others because there is no way any
African player can achieve such an honour in this generation.
Weah scored one of the greatest goals the soccer world has ever
witnessed. In 1996, he dribbled the whole length of the field and beat
the entire Verona team before banging the ball home. That goal was fit
to be set before soccer gods; 14 seconds, 14 touches and 85 meters.
George Weah's soccer exploits in Europe are countless. Liberia stands
out to be proud of this son because Liberia and Africa might never be
able to produce another artist filled with the sublime brilliance of
Weah who is capable of winning one full swoop, the African, European
and World Player of the Year awards. He is the centerpiece of
Liberia's soccer success story today.
Weah, serving as both Technical Director and an inspirational player
for the Lone Star, didn't only qualify the Lone Star to the Nations
Cup finals, but makes her to become group leader in the presence of
the then FIFA's rated best African team, the Bafana Bafana of South
Africa. Other countries in the group were Congo Brazzerville and
His soccer prowess is also shown by again making the Lone Star to be a
group leader in the World Cup qualifying series in the presence of
great African soccer nations like Nigeria and Ghana. Other countries
in the group include Sierra Leone and Sudan. No doubt the Lone Star
without George Weah is just like a car without an engine.
Liberian soccer encountered enough of hiccups along the way. There are
many serious factors that affect Liberian soccer nowadays. One of the
main problems she faces is the lack of a soccer program. This has
caused potential and energetic players and club teams to go down the
drain. The proliferation of first and second division clubs without
proper support and program has created problems for our young players.
In the absence of a soccer program, Liberian soccer has faced a whole
lot of difficulties and embarrassment.
One serious problem Liberian soccer faces is a situation where
relevant institutions in the past and now shy away from
This is being evidenced in George Weah's absolute dominance over the
Liberia Lone Star. Because of certain authorities' lackadaisical
approaches and neglects to issues of relevant concerns with respect to
the national team where they were needed most, it was George Weah who
always came to the rescue by using his hard earned money. Then the
question comes about, 'Why shouldn't someone have control over
something that he his spending his hard earned money on?' We created
this situation and now it has brought some embarrassment to us as a
people. There are times when George Weah cannot make decisions alone
but because of the authority we have given him as a people, no one can
easily brainstorm issues with him, for fear that we won't get our
usual benefits from. That is extremely wrong. To tell you the fact, no
one man is over authority when it comes to handling national issues.
Therefore, when government is supposed to act, let her go ahead and do
Anything less than that will always bring her into disrepute as we see
in our soccer circles today. George Weah himself is human, let others
Let's start commending the present administration for the level
interest and concern being shown the national team. As we see around
us today, the money spent on the team is an indication that more could
be done if we had an organized program. In the absence of said
program, the government will continue to lavishly spend money on the
To conclude, let me recommend the following: To be more than what we
are today in soccer, let the soccer technicians in this country to
back go the drawing board and try to design soccer program that will
include revisiting the format of our national league. The number of
first and second division teams should be reduced to a considerable
amount. This will permit competition among our young players in making
The various club teams should meet the satisfaction of the Liberia
Football Association (LFA) in terms of presenting an allowable bank
statement before being allowed status as a first division team or
second division. This will immensely serve as a means to monitor how
our first and second divisions players will be paid by these clubs.
They should be paid reasonably because playing at these levels is like
starting a career and they will be nothing else serious to think
about. This will allow the players to put in time and consider the
game seriously. It will no doubt serve as a basis of competition.
There should be nothing like third or fourth division soccer in this
country. What should be done instead is that the LFA should put much
interest in the Inter-high School Sports Association (ISSA). Anyone
being in the category of second and third divisions should be forced
to go to school before he plays soccer in this country. This will
serve as a means to encourage youngsters to go to school.
The above recommendations are all open to your criticism and ideas.
Let us all work together in making Liberian soccer more interesting in
order to take it to higher heights.