By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
I watched the a FIFA women’s football match between Nigeria and Sweden.
The game was tied 3-3, with the Nigerian team showing how good a team can be when football officials pay attention to training, funding, and taking care of their players.
Like most Africans, I was more than happy that a team from the continent represented us and played exceedingly well against a team that most people thought would slaughter the Super Falcons, in terms of goals.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria played a good game against Team USA a week later, only to be defeated by a goal, 1-0.
I watched both games.
However, as I watched the Nigerian women played so skillfully in the world cup to make us all proud, I wondered (forget the men) whether Liberian women are ever going to represent Liberia on the international level like those Nigerian women represented their country?
“Lord, when will our Liberian women ever play football like those Nigerian women? In my lifetime?” I asked.
I also said sarcastically, “It will never happen” as long as Musa Bility is President of the Liberian Football Association (LFA).
Not only Musa Bility, but when another person gets appointed or elected President of LFA who is not accountable and is not interested in the game, the development of players, building stadiums, investing in training equipment and recruiting top-notch, world class winning coach, Liberian football will continue to remain on the local level.
Our problem as a people is we Liberians are a bunch of selfish and unpatriotic brats who are only interested in what we can steal from our country, for ourselves and our family. We are not interested in practical nation-building, but are flourishingly rhetorical to impress.
Like men’s football, which gets inadequate funding or no funding, sub par and no-name unproven coaches, unfocused and undisciplined training regimen and zero support for the players in terms of substantive financial incentives, Liberian football will always be a nostalgic footnote.
That is because the men’s game of football is played on the local level for our provincial amusement and not about elevating the game and the player’s financial status, and making the game the genuine national pastime it always has been in the history of the Liberian nation.
However, Liberian women’s football will never develop into anything meaningful (if there is even a women’s national football team or a women’s football league in the country), as long as there is no interest from Musa Bility and the Liberian Football Association (LFA) to develop women’s football like the Nigerians, the Cameroonians and others have done over the years.
Liberian women’s football will never develop into anything significant as long as those young women are not encouraged, mentored and trained, and are objectify as sex toys for Liberia’s culturally chauvinistic men who would rather buy booze for those women to have sex with them rather than mentoring them and helping them with fares and school supplies.
Why are no modern football stadiums built in all the Liberian counties? When modern football stadiums are built in every county and in every community all over Liberia, it brings with it economic development that spurs jobs, the movement of people and economic growth and development.
In a recent article, I called for the investigation, resignation and prosecution of Musa Bility, for his obvious lack of leadership, and his involvement in alleged corruption on and off the field and his LFA office.
As we all are aware, FIFA’s top officials have come under fire recently for corruption, and authorities in the United States and Switzerland have arrested some of those officials. The investigation of FIFA and its officials for corruption has led the organization’s President Sepp Blatter to resign.
However, since FIFA is the governing umbrella organization of the various football organizations all over the world, and since the President of the Liberian Football Association, Musa Bility, has also come under scrutiny for corruption, I wrote in that column that the LFA President should be investigated for alleged corruption. And if he’s found guilty, he should resigned and be prosecuted.
Some of my critics disagrees with me and even argued that there is no connection between what’s happening in FIFA and the LFA. A known Musa Bility’s kinsman naively wrote that I am jealous of Mr. Bility (I don’t even know the man, and I never met him). My concerns are not parochial; and are not about kinship either, but about Liberia’s future, its growth and development.
“Are these individuals serious?” I asked myself.
Where is their sense of patriotism? Or are these individuals patriotic only when a non-kinsman engages in corruption, or when the non-kinsman is accused of being a warlord? Is that the only time these people will advocate ‘rampant corruption, nepotism, democracy and the rule of law?’
And as long as Liberians continue to look the other way and don’t say anything to these officials (because of their narrow kinships, tribal ties, ethnic ties and the various ties and patronage system that continues to keep Liberia backward, Liberian political and sports leaders will continue to believe it is normal for them to steal the nation’s resources, which tends to undermine progress and national and individual development.
There is a need for well-trained, compensated players and competitive sports in Liberia. We need competitive men and women’s football teams, tracks, decathlon, basketball, boxing and other competitive sports that will help make Liberian adults and youths independent and out of poverty.
There will never be a prosperous Liberia and successful Liberian sports and teams when national institutions are broken. We fail our people and country when we look the other way because of our own narrow, selfish interests.