Last week, the International Olympic Committee approved the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games’ event program. The approval included 5 new sports and 15 new events, which will increase the number of women participants and fulfill the committee’s gender balance goal. Out of Liberia’s 46 past Olympians, 9 are women. Liberia’s first female Olympian, Grace Ann Dinkins represented the country in 1984. Since then, Liberia has sent at least 1 female athlete to each attended Game. Liberia has done well sending women to represent the country, at the last 3 Olympics, but how does Liberia support female athletes outside of the Olympics? Let’s take a look.
I hear you want to represent Liberia in the Olympics. Well, you’ve come to the right spot. This article should give you enough information to get started. Getting to the Big Game takes lots of stamina. The journey is filled with competitions and qualifiers, but it all starts with the athlete.
1. KNOW THE QUALIFYING STANDARD
As an athlete, you have to know the qualification criteria for your sport. The international federation that governs your sport sets a basic standard and publishes it to their website. Runners can get qualification standards from the International Association of Athletics Federation webpage. Boxers should visit the International Boxing Association site. Find your international federation and start there.
Sometimes federations publish their Olympic qualifying criteria closer to the Olympic Games. They might even amend the standards. Pay attention to the possible changes. If you cannot find the standards for the upcoming Olympics, use the criteria for the previous Games as a benchmark.
Now that you know how fast you must run or what competitions you must enter, start working towards that goal.
2. TRAINAND COMPETE
Serious Olympic hopefuls must adhere to a strict schedule. You must learn to weave training and competing into your everyday life. In addition to the time commitment, prepare for the financial responsibility.
You must register and attend specific competitions in order to qualify for the Olympics. Again, you’ll find this information on your sport’s international federation webpage. The costs to train, travel, and compete adds up, but there are ways to minimize these expenses.
If you live in Liberia, you can contact the national federation for your sport. Depending on your sport, this could be helpful. Some federations are more active than others. Liberia has 29 sports federations/associations.
In 2015, the Ministry of Youth and Sports established guidelines for each government funded federation and association. These rules were created to monitor the organizations and assist them with their missions. If you qualify, your sport’s federation should assist you in representing Liberia. Below are some active Liberian Sports Federations.
Other national sports federations/associations include golf, kickball, amputee football, taekwondo, weight lifting, karate, volleyball, cricket, lawn tennis, handball, swimming, cycling, wrestling, netball, chess, wushu, canoeing and rowing.
If your sports federation is not active, you can still compete in international competitions, but you’ll have to represent a local club. This means your club will have to register you and assist you with funding.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also offers athletic training scholarships. Financing your journey will take time and research.
If you live outside Liberia, don’t depend on the national sports federations for too much help with training. Their job is to develop their sport within the country. You might need to take advantage of your local resources (schools and clubs), until closer to competition time. Even during competitions, Liberian sports federations have struggled to finance Liberian athletes. Still, try to communicate with the federation. They might be able to guide you in some area.
Remember the IOC offers scholarships. Do your research. A little research can go a long way.
What if Liberia does not have a federation for your sport? No problem. The Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) can vouch for you.
3. CONNECT WITH LIBERIA NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
The LNOC submits the final roster for the Liberia Olympic Team to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC then decides whether or not to accept each athlete as Liberia’s representative. It’s the LNOC’s job to make sure every athlete is qualified to represent the country.
If you have been training, competing, and meet your sports’ Olympic qualification standard, you might get the chance to represent our beloved Lone Star. Keep in mind this process is easier read than done.
This path can be filled with bumps, sharp turns, and even dead ends. You will probably spend half your time trying to reach the appropriate contact person and the other half searching for funds, but don’t give up. Remain persistent and keep working hard. I believe both of these issues will get better over time.
It’s no secret. Sports have a tremendous impact on our lives. From the spectator to the athlete, sports can become more than entertainment or exercise. In fact, studies show that kids who participate in organized sports build communication skills, decisiveness, teamwork, time management, self-esteem, and community. Researchers also link high academic performances and healthier lifestyles to sports participation, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Athletes have the responsibility to represent themselves, teammates, and fans. Their skills can take them all over the world, introducing them to places and people from all walks of life. Sports also benefit spectators. As spectators cheer on their team, they create stronger bonds with each other. It’s no wonder humanitarians use sports as tools for improving society. Below, we highlight four Liberian-focused organizations that use the power of sports to change lives.
Bill Rogers, the popular Liberian runner and 1500m national record holder, understands first-hand the opportunities sports create. Rogers established the Bill Rogers Youth Foundation in 2010, and has been using various sports to make a difference in Liberia since then. He’s hosted numerous sporting camps and competitions for Liberian youth, while raising funds to improve the community. The Bill Rogers Youth Foundation Facebook page showcases albums full of pictures from sporting events, team activities, and fundraisers.
The Liberian Athletes Reunion (LAR) organization hosts the annual LAR event focused on uniting former and current Liberian athletes and sports enthusiasts from all over the world. Since 2014, LAR has gathered Liberians in various cities to focus on ways to implement projects that will assist and empower Liberian athletes of all ages. In the past LAR has raised medical funds for a former coach and player. This year, LAR will host its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia USA from June 23-25.
Life And Change Experienced through Sports. This is what L.A.C.E.S founder Seren Fryatt created in Liberia. After playing professional soccer in Liberia, the American athlete formed L.A.C.E.S, in 2007. The organization uses Christ as its mentor and soccer as its platform to develop the community and its most prized possession — its youth. Local leadership, community engagement, and family support are three key factors in the LACES movement. Since, 2008 local Liberians have operated L.A.C.E.S in Liberia.
Launching in 2015, Monrovia Football Academy (MFA) is the first school in Liberia to combine formal education with football development. The school’s website outlines how the institution tackles issues in education, gender equality, football opportunities, nutrition, life skills, and healthcare. Currently MFA has 29 boys and 19 girls, ages 8-12, in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.
Each of the organizations listed above have demonstrated a strong understanding of the positive effects that sports can have on the community. Take the time to visit each website and learn more about what they are doing for Liberia.
What are some other sports organizations working to help Liberia’s youth? Share your favorite one with us.
Few professional athletes are blessed enough to gain national support and sponsorship, allowing them to focus solely on the grueling competition process. Others have to muster up the time and money to train, travel, and compete. Many Liberians find themselves in the latter group. In between full-time jobs, some Liberian athletes have the energy to not only train and compete, but also win. Their victories matched with the minimal support they often receive makes their medals even more impressive.
Liberians proudly shout “Team LIB,” year round. It’s the unofficial abbreviation for all things Liberian. In the past, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) assigned Lebanon the LIB country code. Why? Because of France. Between 1920 and 1943, the French held Lebanon under colonial rule and redefined the area. They stretched its borders into parts of Syria and renamed the country Le Liban.
From 1964 to 2016, Lebanon used the LIB code at the Olympics, but it looks as though that will soon change. The third and current abbreviation for the Lebanese Olympic Committee is LBN. That releases the LIB code. Why let a good code go to waste?
We’re not sure how Olympic team coding works, but here are five reasons the IOC should exchange Liberia’s LBR code for LIB.
At LIB Olympic Blog, we hope to see Liberia’s presence at the Olympic Games expand, but we’re not looking for just any representation. We are looking for the “cream of the crop.” We desire to watch competitive Liberian athletes perform on the world’s stage. After all, we believe that sports unite us.
Here is our first list of Liberian athletes around the globe to watch. Consider this our Liberia Olympic Team wishlist.
Eighteen year-old Lucy Massaquoi and sixteen year-old Andrew Kpehe represented Liberia at the 2017 World Cross Country Championshipsin Kampala, Uganda on Sunday March 26. Massaquoi finished her 5858 meters in 27:41. This placed her 94th out of the 97 women under 20 years-old, who completed the race. Her time was 9 minutes and 7 seconds slower than the fastest runner, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey.
He said, “My man, you’ve got something within you that I need to explore out there” and the rest is history.
At two-years-old, James Bobby Siaffa contracted Polio and lost full use of his legs. Overtime, he sat on the sidelines of most sporting events. Just watching. Fast forward to now. Siaffa is known as “Bobby the Big” and he is one of Liberia’s strongest men.