Liberia’s Youth Development In Limbo: LFA Separates Goats from Sheep – Wreh, Kojo Retain Posts

Monrovia – The Liberia Football Association (LFA) has finally terminated the services of five youth coaches and administrative manager of the senior national team.

Those affected are Under-20 deputy coach Oliver Makor, Under-17 head coach Joe Nagbe and deputy coach George Gebro; Under-14 head coach Varmah Kpoto and deputy coach Jonah Sarweah and senior national team administrative manager Washington Blaye.

In a separate communication, LFA acting Secretary General Emmanuel Deah said the FA’s decision followed a careful review of their technical activities.

Deah also disclosed that the FA couldn’t continue the contracts beyond the one year probation period based on administrative and financial reasons.

He said the executive committee mandated him to inform the affected persons of its decision and thanked them for their time and services.

Deah assured them that they would be promptly contacted once their services are needed in the future.

Contrary to an earlier disclosure by LFA President Musa Bility, Under-23 head coach Thomas Kojo and deputy coach Janjay Jacobs weren’t dismissed as well as Under-20 head coach Christopher Wreh.

Speaking to UNMIL Radio Sports Extra program on a wide range of issues on June 18, Bility disclosed that all youth coaches would be dismissed due to lack of programs or competitions, leaving Liberia’s youth development programs in limbo. 

Kelvin Sebwe was sacked as female national team head coach but will remain 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 withdrew from the 2017 Africa Under-17 Nations Cup qualifier with Ghana due to financial constraints 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 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 withdrew from the Fifa under-17 qualifiers with Sierra Leone and under-20 qualifiers with Guinea Bissau due to financial constraints on June 14, 2002. 

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 organizers.

“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.”

Liberia missed out on the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, losing 7-1 on aggregate to Ghana with the team having departed for Tamale less than 24 hours to the match.

Danesius Marteh,

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