President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf met on Wednesday with players of two national football teams, the "Lone Star" of Liberia and the "Flames" of Malawi, at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia.
The Liberian President used the occasion to formally welcome the Malawian national team to Liberia, and extended sisterly greetings to her counterpart, President Joyce Banda. President Sirleaf acknowledged the spirit of teamwork and cooperation within the context of the African Union, as exhibited by both teams.
The President apologized to the Malawians for the overly wet state of the playing pitch at game time, and promised to correct the situation. "The two teams played a good game, a clean game and a professional game," she said.
She thanked the Lone Star Mobilization Committee and its Acting Chairperson, Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, for the excellent planning and mobilization. She congratulated the two teams, stressing that they were all winners. "I watched and enjoyed the game myself, and was pleased with the performance of both teams," the Liberian leader stated.
Speaking earlier were Youth and Sports Minister, Tornolah Varpilah; Mobilization Committee Acting Chairperson, Senator Doe-Sheriff; and Liberia Football Association (LFA) Acting President, Musa Shannon. All thanked the national team players for their victory and assured Liberians of their commitment to take the Lone Star to the finals of the African Cup of Nations in South Africa by 2014.
Minister Varpilah told the players that the meeting was aimed at appreciating them. He pointed out that "Sport for Development" is a new concept that both Liberia and Malawi must pursue. He expressed confidence that the national team will qualify for South Africa 2014, and boasted that the team has an array of very talented players who can pull the trick.
Mr. Shannon, of the Liberia Football Association, said that the journey to the Nations Cup is a long one, and he challenged all Liberians to get involved with the process. He also thanked sponsors of the Lone Star team, including Cellcom, Lonestar Cell and others for their support.
A representative of the Malawian delegation thanked the President for the occasion and reminded her about their brief interaction at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Stadium during the match. He thanked the LFA for accepting their proposal for the friendly match in preparation of their respective qualifying matches on Saturday of this week. He said that the game was a reflection of the Esau and Jacob scenario; that Liberia became the "Jacob" by winning the match, but warned that the case in Ghana on Saturday will be different. "We are very grateful and thank you so much for the honor of having us in your presence," the Malawian concluded.
The two teams were accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as officials and members of the Lone Star Mobilization Team. Youth and Sports Minister Varpilah and the Acting Chair of the Lone Star Mobilization Committee, Senator Doe-Sheriff of Montserrado, led the delegation to the office of the President.