17 May 2018

Liberia: Former Lone Star Goalkeeper Wants Audience With President Weah

He clung to his crutches, tucked firmly into his armpits in a rather unsteady fashion as he moved painstakingly but methodically away from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the current office of President George Manneh Weah.

His every movement appeared to convey the impression that he was indeed in a lot of pain as every now and then he would pause to rest but remain standing.

The man with the crutches was former St. Joseph Warriors' and the national team Lone Star's goalkeeper, William Wleh. He was also known as Nmunah Wleh.

"I just sent a letter to the President, " he told me when we met by chance near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

"Who received the letter?" I asked. He replied, "The security officer there." Wleh explained that he sent the letter to President Weah on May 1, and he went to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to follow-up. "I went there to see if President Weah got my letter, but I was told that it would take him two weeks to reply me," he said.

"What did you say to the president in your letter?" I asked ex-goalkeeper Wleh, whose bedraggled appearance suggested that he had indeed fallen on very hard times.

"I wrote President Weah to buy me Kehkeh," he told me. "I think if I can get it I can run to make money to take care of myself." "Did you have any chance to know if he would get back to you?" I asked him. Without hesitation, he replied, "They (security) told me that Tuesdays and Thursdays are days that President Weah meets people and so I will be going back there tomorrow, Thursday."

Wleh, who lives in New Kru Town, said he made the decision to write the letter to President Weah with the hope that through God, the president would have compassion on him to get him a Kehkeh.

"I believe that through God, President Weah will hear my appeal and come to my help," he added rather wistfully. Ex-goalkeeper Wleh is one of the few surviving footballers who began their career in the 1970s.

Wleh played along with stars like Sam Toe, Christopher Nippy and Waka Herron. He said when he was recruited on the national team, Lone Star, midfielder Josiah N. Johnson, Borbor Gaye and Monkey Brown were at the end of their careers. "We took over from them," Wleh told me. "Josiah was a great midfielder." Since President George Weah came to power, Wleh is the first ailing footballer of the 1970s who has made such painstaking efforts to reach out to President Weah to get what he said he could use to earn income to care for himself.

Wleh played from 1970-1984. It was the period that Liberian footballers simply played for the love of the game. "Let God bless your quest to meet with President Weah," I told him.

And his face lit up almost instantly with a smile, as Wleh replied "Amen."


Omari Jackson


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