Thursday 06 October 2022, 12:00

Bright future beckons for Liberia

  • Liberia rolling out ambitious pilot development schemes

  • Refurbishment of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium and construction of head offices for national FA

  • Projects funded with the aid of the FIFA Forward Programme

In late September, a FIFA delegation travelled to Liberia to tour the new facilities that the Liberia Football Association (LFA) has worked hard to put in place, with the assistance of world football’s governing body and its FIFA Forward Programme. “On behalf of the people of Liberia, I would like to express my gratitude to you once again for your visit,” said LFA President Mustapha Raji. “My thanks to the FIFA Council for having approved and launched FIFA Forward, a programme that has changed the dynamics of Liberian football and the development of infrastructure in our country.” The focal point of the pilot project, which was put on hold as a result of the pandemic, was the refurbishment of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, starting with its lighting system. “We are proud of what has been achieved here with the installation of a cutting-edge floodlight system,” said Carlos Gazapo, FIFA Infrastructure & Environment Manager, who is heading up FIFA Forward infrastructure projects.

The city’s main football stadium, the ATS has been unable to host evening matches for several years now on account of its defective floodlights. Thanks to the new system, it can now host night matches across all age groups, giving the general population an opportunity to enjoy some recreation after work and school hours. “Having these floodlights is a real boost,” commented LFA Vice-President Sekou Konneh. “Schoolchildren who don’t have such facilities in their neighbourhoods can now come and sit and watch matches or even do their homework.”

Women’s football in the spotlight

The extension of the stadium’s operating hours means it can now host more women’s football matches. “Many girls go to school during the day and they’re thrilled to be able to come here and play at night,” said LFA Deputy Vice-President and Head of Women’s Football Jodie Reid Seton. “It’s important that FIFA continues to support the national FA and women’s football in particular. It will encourage new approaches and ensure that more girls play the game and take part in FIFA’s women’s football development campaign. It will help us to train more female coaches too.” A giant LED screen has also been installed at Liberia’s legendary national stadium. As well as displaying the score it can also screen advertisements, helping to generate income that can be put towards the upkeep of the venue.

“Having these floodlights is a real boost. Schoolchildren who don’t have such facilities in their neighbourhoods can now come and sit and watch matches or even do their homework.”

LFA Vice-President Sekou Konneh.
LFA Vice-President Sekou Konneh.

The Samuel K. Do Stadium, which backs on to the ATS, has also undergone extensive refurbishment work, the idea being to broaden the appeal of the city’s main football venue, which is home to the local footballing community, and the services it offers. “Our plan was to install three artificial pitches, renovate the roof on the stand, which has a capacity of 600, and refurbish the dressing room,” explained Diop El Hadji Wack, the head of FIFA’s regional development office in Dakar, Senegal. “As you can see, these renovations are complete and the federation is now in a position to organise league matches and club training sessions. Players can now enjoy playing better football on standard pitches that reduce the risk of injury.”

In further good news for Liberia, construction of the LFA’s first head offices will very soon be complete. The new headquarters will allow the federation to run all its activities from a single location and to make the most of all its resources. Also built with FIFA Forward funding, the offices will provide a fresh boost for the development of the game in Liberia and reflect the desire of FIFA President Gianni Infantino to make football truly global.