Politics

Pres. Weah Says Invincible Park Is A Statement to His Critics, A Dream Come True – FrontPageAfrica


MONROVIA – President George Weah has said that the opening of the Invincible Park makes a symbolic statement to everyone who passes and looks at it.

In an interview, President Weah said, “The entire place is a statement: STOP! S.T.O.P, stop. That’s the statement this place makes.”

While President Weah did not go further in explaining what he meant by “STOP!”, it is clear that he was referring to people who pay a blind eye to his works and continue to criticize.

“So, for those who will pass by this place that has eyes to see and choose not to see, that’s their business,” he said.

He said the construction of the modern recreational park was a childhood dream. President Weah during the dedication of the Invincible Park called on Liberians, especially opposition politicians, to embrace diversity, unity, and peace for the forward match of the nation.

The park is located at the foot of the James Payne Spriggs Airport near the Tubman Boulevard and it is directly opposite the home of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

It was supervised by the Minister of State Without Portfolio, Trokon Kpui, and funded by the National Port Authority (NPA), National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), and the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA).

It comprises of a standard FIFA football pitch, two youth football practice pitches, two basketball courts, tennis and volleyball courts, a track and field stretch, mini children’s playground, parking space, VIP lounge, and a prayer house.

Several housing units were also constructed around the park to give the area a facelift.

Speaking during a dedicatory ceremony held on Friday, April 15, President Weah pointed out that the construction of the park was in fulfillment of his childhood’s dream.

“Today is a very special day for me. I want to thank the almighty God for giving me the opportunity to realize my dream and aspiration for the happiness and wellbeing of our citizens”.

He added that since he was trusted to lead the development of Liberia in 2018, he continues to dedicate his efforts to ensure that Liberia and its citizens continue to enjoy unbroken peace, adding that, “without peace, there can be no development”.

He noted that his government has achieved a lot in terms of development and is making significant progress towards the completion of all other ongoing projects.

“Let me assure you that the projects which we embarked on and have not yet completed will be completed”.

“Today, we are here to open this sports park that no one unexpected. Again, this is an opportunity for me as President to continue to show the love that I have for Liberia and the Liberian people. I am a patriot by nature and I will always remain patriotic”.

President Weah recalled that during his youthful days, he played soccer at the spot hosting the park.

“This was our soccer field. I broke my first record in the high school league right here on this field by defeating the famous Wells Hairston High School when I played for the Muslim Congress High School”.

While growing up, President Weah further recalled, that he had the opportunity to play for the Invincible Eleven (IE) Majestic Club, which was one of the leading soccer clubs in Liberia, and practiced and played numerous games at the same spot.

“I used to live right across the Air Field when I played for IE. Although this piece of land was undeveloped it was used for recreational purposes for many decades by the general public in Monrovia”.

President Weah emphasized that since the area was one of the first places he practiced and play matches to elevate his professional career, it should be given the credit for producing the first and only Liberian and African to have won the FIFA World Best and the European Ballon d’or football titles.

Site for fasting and praying

He also recounted the meaningful role the area hosting the park played in the history of Liberia.

Hundreds of elderly Liberian women previously used the site to stay in the sun and rain fasting and rendering prayers to God during the country’s brutal civil conflicts.

Normally dressed in white and blue, the women are regularly seen laying or sitting in the sand fasting and praying.

“They (women) were here as prayer warriors for our nation in the heat and the rain laying on the ground and sitting in the sand with no shelter for the element. As we all know, they were very successful. Their prayers were heard by the Almighty God and their efforts were rewarded with lasting and sustainable peace attained and enjoyed for almost two decades”.

Neglected for long

The Liberian Chief Executive wondered why the site which served as an avenue for the restoration of peace and stability in Liberia was not developed for several decades by past leaders.

He observed that since his youthful days, no past governments saw it prudent to improve the former IE practice ground in order to provide Liberians the opportunity to engage into recreational activities in the open air.

He maintained that the site immensely contributed to his professional soccer career, and therefore, he felt obligated to develop it from a place which was used as a site for not only amateur football, but open defecation to a modern sports and recreation center.

Realization of childhood’s dream

President Weah emphasized that coming from a humble family during his struggling days, his rent, school fees through scholarships and others were paid for through sports and as such, he is obliged to always give back, adding that, “giving back is a blessing”.

“The transformation of this place into a modern sports and recreation facility for the public is not only pleasing to me, but it is the realization of my childhood’s dream to give back to my people”.

“My only source for sponsorship was sports. My rent was paid by some of the people who are attending this program today. May God bless you. I am surrounded by people who planted seeds and put me under their arms as a little brother. All of you know my story now”.

He made specific reference to an Ivorian national Yusif Fofana.

According to him, Mr. Fofana played a pivotal role and adequately contributed towards his professional career in France.

Addressing airport shortcomings

The newly constructed Invincible Sports Park is adjacent the James Spriggs Field in Congo Town.

During the commencement of the project, there was public outcry that the construction of a park closer to the airport was in violation of international aviation standards and laws.

But President Weah disclosed that following the conduct of feasibility studies, it was established that the construction was not in violation of any aviation standards.

He said it was also determined by the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) that the park remains situated “a safe distance from the runway”.

He added that the construction of the park in the vicinity of the airport has drawn his government’s attention to exert efforts to address the shortcomings confronting the airport.

President Weah pointed out that he has requested the management of the LAA to draw up a plan for a feasibility study for the rehabilitation, including the extension of the runway of the airport in the direction of the swamp.

Housing units

In a bid to improve the living standards of residents living around the newly constructed park, President Weah also reported that his government will construct about 52 two-bedrooms housing units around the perimeter of the park.

Previously, residents in the area were staying in makeshift and dilapidated houses.

He pointed out that already, 30 of these housing units have been completed and the remaining will be completed in the next 60 days.

“I came from sports; and today I am now the 24th President of Africa’s first independent republic”. 

He attributed his success in life and professional soccer career to perseverance, respect, discipline and team work.

President Weah encouraged young Liberians to take keen and uphold these attributes if they must be successful in the future.

He stressed that his government will use sports to drive national developments across the nation in keeping with the actualization of its Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) as recommended by France President Emmanuel Macron during his state visit.

Rules

President Weah stated rules and regulations have been put in place in a bid to maintain and safeguard the park.

He stated that the park needs to be kept clean at all times.

He banned the sale of alcoholic beverages and drugs at the facility on grounds that, “children will be in this park as well”.

President Weah disclosed that surveillance cameras have been installed for safety measures and to also ensure that the essence of the park is not abused by anyone.

“We are about to dedicate this sports park that nobody ever expected. For this park to be sustained there will be rules here. If you do not respect the rules, you will back pass your respect and when you back pass your respect, you know what will happen”.

He maintained that no one will be allowed in the park above 9PM.

He urged Liberians and others to strictly observe and adhere to the rules and regulations governing the park.

Recognizing sports contributors

President Weah, however, named various sectors of the park in honor of eminent Liberians, including Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, Montserrado County Representative Solomon Claudius George, Trokon Kpui, Alhaji G. V. Kromah, Willis Knuckles, Samuel Brunette, amongst others.

He emphasized that these eminent citizens made numerous contributions toward the development of sports in a very special way in Liberia.

President Weah, however, used the occasion to commend authorities of the NPA, NASSCORP, LiMA for funding the project in keeping with their corporate social responsibilities.

He also lauded First Lady Madam Clar Weah for always being there and encouraging him to remain positive to strive forward.

He requested a standing ovation and applause for Minister for State Without Portfolio, Protocol Director Finda Bundoo and the engineering battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for executing the project.

“Welcome to the Invincible Park where all the wonders are happening. Be encouraged and inspired; make fun; make friends and no trouble in this Invincible Park. We come here for training, fitness and not palava. Let’s encourage diversity, unity and peace. I now have the honor to declare the Invincible Sports Park open”.

Authorities of the IE Majestic Football Club commended the Liberian leader for the completion and subsequent dedication of the project with a call for President Weah to use eminent domain to address encroachment and reclaim lands that previously served as recreational centers for youths in various communities across the country.

The dedicatory ceremony was attended by scores of government officials and ex-international soccer players including former Togolese and Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor, Senegalese and former Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan, and Kwame Ayew.

Others are ex-Bolton and Nigerian football icon Austin J.J Okocha, Zambia’s Kalusha Bwalya, former PSG coach Luis Fernandes, ex-Liverpool star Tim Cahill, among others.





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