Liberia: Providing Talented Players with the Chance to Reach their Full Potential
Nearly 2,000 players. 91 teams. 9 counties. Once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A fundamental step in raising the competitiveness of national teams is recognizing and nurturing talent.
This step naturally starts with grassroots football, one of the most crucial levels of the game. This level helps to cultivate local talent and boost players’ confidence by encouraging newcomers to develop and sharpen their skills while still having fun and free from undue pressure.
The Liberia Football Association (LFA) is on par with developing the next generation of national team players with assistance from FIFA through the Talent Development Scheme (TDS) following the successful completion of the first-ever national U-15 championship and TDS.
“The growth of football does not happen overnight. It’s a process that must go on. I’m glad that we are building on the foundations left by previous leaders, enlarging them, and strengthening them so that it will be easier for new leaders to lead football in our nation when they come,” said Mustapha Raji, president of the LFA.The starting XI of TDS Team-B consisted of two teams composed of the 34 scouted players.
The TDS, introduced by FIFA in February 2022, provides member associations (MAs) with specialized assistance to help them realize their full potential, continuing the steps taken to lessen the disparity in the standard of football between various regions of the world.
Its main objective is to raise the bar for men’s and women’s national teams globally, in line with FIFA’s commitment to long-term global talent development.
The TDS was applied for by nearly 200 MAs, including Liberia. The project’s pilot phase has begun.
The TDS was introduced by the LFA on December 10, 2022, in eight of Liberia’s fifteen counties, giving hundreds of players a chance to demonstrate their skills.
The national domestic U-15 league featured 59 teams, with the eight champions moving on to the U-15 championship and TDS in Monrovia.
On June 19, 2023, a four-day U-15 championship ended after offering more than 50 scouted players a thorough program designed to help them improve their football-playing skills.
A group of chosen scouts, including head coach of Liberia’s men’s senior national team Ansu Keita, coach of the men’s U-20 national team Tapha Manneh, ex-captain of the national team Anthony Laffor, and Alvin Clarke, observed the players.
The event was held at the George Weah Technical Center in Careysburg and gave participants from eight counties access to one-of-a-kind experiences.
Of the 1,820 players who participated in the TDS from 91 teams in nine counties, 34 players from six counties made up the final list of scouted players.The starting XI of TDS Team-A consisted of two teams composed of the 34 scouted players.
Following the transition of players from the U-17 to the U-20 national teams, the scouted players will now be divided based on their ages to make up the U-15 and U-17 teams.
The TDS will be held annually to identify and develop talents. The LFA is also using other yearly youth competitions to identify additional talents to join the TDS-scouted players.
One of these competitions is the ongoing 2023 Heroes Cup, an annual U-15 competition. This year’s edition features 12 clubs, including two teams (TDS Teams A and B) composed of the 34 players recruited during the TDS.
This latest LFA initiative is just one of many that the president of the football association thinks will have a long-term positive impact on the country.
“We can’t assure you of millions of dollars. We can’t promise you things overnight. However, we can guarantee that the programs we developed at the football house, as well as the pathway we established, will undoubtedly profit greatly from the growth of football in our nation in the future,” Raji said.