Football’s world governing body (Fifa) will provide US$50,000 and a consignment of equipment for youth football leagues in Liberia. Fifa technical development officer for West Africa François Bohe, who paid a three-day visit to Monrovia to assess youth football development programs, made the disclosure in an interview with Liberia Football Todaythe Liberia Football Association (LFA)’s seasonal newspaper on June 13.
Bohe also met with LFA vice president Musa Shannon and other officials.
Bohe, who is based in Ivory Coast, he had come to access progress after the Ebola outbreak, which paralyzed almost everything. He said the competition will be held for youth at the under-14 and under-15 in the male and female categories. Bohe disclosed that Fifa will also bring in coaching and referee instructors to train coaches and referees for the specific purpose of building the capacity of those that will coach and referee in the competition.
He revealed that the league will be organized in collaboration with LFA technical director Henry Brown. “We have plenty things to do in Liberia like Beach Soccer, Futsal, women football among others,” Bohe was quoted on the FA’s Facebook page. Bohe said Brown was asked to request Fifa to support the development of all disciplines related to growth and development. The pledge will come as a welcome development with Liberia’s youth programs in limbo as several coaches were sacked on June 25.
According to LFA president Musa Bility, there are no programs or competitions for the coaches. Bility was speaking to UNMIL Radio’s Sports Extra program on a wide range of issues on June 18. Although Bility didn’t elaborate, he said it was an administrative decision to downsize the coaches. Those affected include under-14 head coach Varmah Kpoto and deputy coach Jonah Sarweah and under-17 head coach Joe Nagbe and deputy coach George Gebro.
Others are under-20 head coach Christopher Wreh and deputy coach Oliver Makor and under-23 head coach Thomas Kojo and deputy coach Janjay Jacobs. Kelvin Sebwe was reportedly sacked as female national team head coach but will hold on as James Salinsa Debbah’s deputy ahead of the final match in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Tunisia in Tunis in September. Liberia lost 3-1 to Guinea on aggregate in the 2017 Africa under-20 Nations Cup qualifiers in April but withdrew from the 2017 Africa under-17 Nations Cup qualifier with Ghana due to financial constraints.
“It’s true we [Liberia] have withdrawn from the tournament. We don’t have the adequate funds to make the trip to Ghana for the qualifiers. So we decided to pull out,” a Liberian FA official told kickgh.com in an exclusive interview. The first leg was due for the weekend of June 24-26 in Accra and the return leg would’ve taken place two weeks later in Monrovia. Liberia also withdrew from the 2015 under-17 qualifiers with Sierra Leone for fear of age cheating, having won a similar protest against Gambia in the under-20 competition. But then LFA secretary-general Alphonso Armah (deceased) disclosed that there was no doctor at the Jackson F. Doe hospital in Tappita, Nimba County to use the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to determine and confirm the ages of the players as required by Caf.
The MRI scan, commonly known as Age’s Detector Machine, is a radiology technique that uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures and can also be used to determine the age of a person from the scanned bones. Liberia, who were subsequently banned and fined by Caf, will suffer a similar punishment. In November 2015, Caf ended the suspensions of 15 national youth teams, qualifying them for the 2017 under-17 Nations Cup finals in Madagascar and 2017 under-20 Nations Cup in Zambia. Caf had set a deadline of 31 December 2015 for countries to confirm their participations or withdrawals.
The bans were given for breaches of regulations, including no-shows and age-cheating. Under-17 sides to have had their ban lifted were Benin, Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and South Sudan while under-20 sides who benefited were Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho and South Sudan. Liberia also with-drew from the Fifa under-17 qualifiers with Sierra Leone and under-20 qualifiers with Guinea Bissau due to financial constraints on June 14, 2002.
Top of Form In a letter to then LFA secretary-general Nyanqueh S. Borsay, then sports minister Max M. Dennis said: “I acknowledge hereby the receipt of your letter of 15 May 2002 regarding the desire of the LFA to have the under-17 team of Liberia engage their counterparts from Sierra Leone, the subject of which we have had repeated conversations to enable a timely response to the organ-izers. “In noting the associated cost of the tournament and guided by the prudence of ministerial expenditure at a time when the priority to government is to protect the sovereignty of Liberia, it is the resolve of the Ministry of Youth and Sports to maintain and prepare the various Lone Star teams within the confines of the country until such time when the coffers of the government are supportive of the engagement of tournaments that require high financial outlays, specifically the tall order of US$82,235 for the present requirement.” But the unanswered question is how the LFA spends Fifa’s financial assistance program (FAP) on youth and women football and administrative cost with an increment from US$250,000 to US$5 million per four-year cycle for each member association.
Danesius Marteh, danesius.marteh@ frontpageafricaonline.com