By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
Another monument project costing US$200,000 project in honor of African soccer legend and President of Liberia, George Oppong Manneh Weah has been launched by a group of Liberians to recognize the invaluable contributions of the Liberian soccer legend to the country and the African continent at large. The first monuments were built on Broad Street in the 1990s during the war (now demolished) while a second monument is now erected in the Doe Community corridor which is now under criticisms apparently due to its poor sculpture.
But the newly launched monument project by a group of Liberians led by former Representative David Kortie will be built outside Liberia to portray the true image of Mr. Weah, believing that the former soccer star who eventually became the President of Liberia deserved to be honored appropriately for flying Liberia flag through soccer activities during the gloomy days of Liberia.
Giving the overview of the project, the former legislator and soccer enthusiast said it is about time that Liberians come together to honor their leader for his efforts in making Liberia to be recognized among other countries across the world through his greatest achievement in football.
Oppong, as he was popularly referred to won the titles of “African Best” and “World Best” on the football pitch and after retirement from soccer, the legend entered the political arena of his country when he was elected Senator for Montserrado and then President of Liberia. Weah also won the Ballon d’or as well as FIFA Footballer of the Year in 1995.
Kortie said other countries in Africa as well as the world at large have built monuments for their star players in remembrance of their talents which lifted the name of their countries among other footballing nations; and added that President Weah’s monument which cost US$150,000 just to build it, weighs 1,000 pound.
He told the gathering at the launch of the monument that it will cost US$10,000 for its transportation and an additional US$10,000 for its erection in Liberia totaling the sum 20,000 USD. The monument, Kortie said, will be built in the State of Maryland in the United States of America.
Kortie, who in former days ran 100 reasons for the election of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the presidency in his Flash Point Tabloid, added that the monument will be built in the United States of America not because there are no qualified persons in Liberia to do such project, but because the group aspires to a high quality and durable monument for the President as well.
“We are building this monument in Maryland, USA because we don’t want anyone who sees it to question it; but to let them know directly that they are looking at the Liberian Soccer Legend, George “Oppong” Manneh Weah”, he explained.
Kortie further noted that the project is the group’s initiative. He denied that the group has received money from any government official and not even the President, George Manneh Weah to do the project as speculated in some quarters of the Liberian society.
Instead, he indicated that the group saw it necessary that since President Weah was not honor during his days on the page by Liberians, now is the time that he received his flower for the good job he has done for the country through soccer and his high level of achievements in football as the only African to have won in succession the Ballon d’or and the FIFA Footballer of the Year in 1995.
Many Liberians have lauded the group for the initiative including Lofa County Senator Steve Zargo, Youth and Sports Minister D. Zeogar Wilson, former Liberia Football Association President Musa Hassan Bility, as well as private and public institutions in country that have begun contributing to the project.