By Atty Philip N.Wesseh (PNW)
Recently it was reported that President George Manneh Weah intends to construct a Sporting Park on the Tubman Boulevard near the James Payne Spriggs Airfield, commonly known as Invincible Eleven Practice Ground. To effectuate this, a ground breaking ceremony was held at the designated spot where the construction is expected to take place. The project would be a modern recreational, multipurpose complex to be named and styled: “The Invincible Sport Park.”
President Weah who before going international, played for the now living dead Invincible Eleven (IE), then one of the formidable teams in the first division league of the Liberian football Association. It was from that team that he leapfrogged internationally in the 80’s and deservingly won several accolades in soccer, including “Africa Best” and “World Best” Soccer Player. Perhaps, as a way to show gratitude and appreciation to his former team, he decided to undertake the project in its honor.
Breaking ground for the project recently as reported in the NEWS NEWSPAPER, the former IE striker said, ““Today has brought me yet another opportunity to share my dreams and aspirations for the happiness and well-being of our citizens, by providing modern recreational facilities that will contribute to their good health, well-being and fitness. “ He pointed out that this was one of the first places in Monrovia where he used to practice soccer in his youthful days but after four months, it will have a new and modern look for the entire population to benefit from.
Furthermore, President Weah who is the Chief Patron of Sports told of gathering of happy sports fans that the Invincible Sports Park, would contain basketball, tennis and volleyball courts including walking trails, children’s playground as well as an outdoor gym, together with adequate sanitary facilities adding that as a public park, it will be freely accessible and available to anyone and everyone who seeks to use it.
The former soccer legend disclosed that he is developing the public park as his personal contribution to the people of the area. “There will be other parks that will be built with public funds but I feel a burning desire and sense of obligation to Give Back this community because of what this place has given to my success in the world of soccer,” a statement which was received with cheers and sound of appreciation, the former world footballer of the year pointed out.
A View of the Site for the construction of the sport park
In a move to erase the public debate about the strategic nature of the park, he clarified that prior to the plan for the commencement of the project, he made a former application to the Liberian Aviation Authority for approval to locate the facility because of its close proximity to the Spriggs Airfield, but permission was granted on the basis of my undertaking that all heights and elevations would comply with the requirements of the aviation regulation.
Additionally, he said it will be situated at a safe distance from the runway, as determined by the LCAA, and there will be no building erected in the park and bragged that the project will not take big money to do, rather for the selfless love for his people, thoughtful care for their feelings and genuine concern for their happiness and well-being. He then used the occasion to encourage young and talented athletes to take ownership of the park, to ensure that they train well, be fit, inspired and develop their own game.
First let me thank the Chief Patron of Sports for this brilliant idea to construct a sporting park in the country as a memorial for his former team-IE. This is a welcoming and good initiative, but notwithstanding, my only concern is the spot earmarked for the project.
My first concern is the site of the project near the airfield, which according to the President would in no way cause any problem, as advised by experts or authorities on such matter. The issue in this is whether or not those individuals or institutions have given the right advice, is something to consider, as I recall that many years ago a commercial plane crashed in that area.
The President should be aware that sometimes the so-called experts or authorities say things the leader wants to hear and such individuals or institutions would be the same to blame the leader in case of a default or any problem arising thereof.
My next concern has to do with the traffic in that area. Already that area always experiences traffic congestion and that one should consider what it would be if the project is completed for use by the public. We should not forget that this is one of the routes near the city without any by-pass. Those leaving from Sinkor Old Road, Congo Town and Paynesville coming to town, MUST use that route and this is my concern about the need to rethink.
Howbeit, let me again say that as a lover of sports and a former sporting official in New Kru Town, commonly known as “KLODAYDAYKPOR” or “SAIGON,” I welcome the idea of a sporting park, but the spot is my concern. I am aware of the importance of recreation and entertainment. Even in the field of journalism, one of its traditional role is to entertain.
And so, I would never oppose to anything that relates to recreation or entertainment. One of the benefits of this is what is known in Mass Communication as “Catharsis“.
For me, that place is not conducive for such a modern recreational-multipurpose complex. As the project is in its embryonic stage as I have observed, it is not too late to give the issue of the venue a second thought. Perhaps, the Robertsfield Highway and other areas not too far from the Capital City would be more suitable for the project as this would be a positive step in the nation’s decentralization activities.
Just last Sunday when I drove through historic Crozierville to attend the Thanksgiving and Intercessory Service at the Christ Episcopal Church to mark the beginning of the observance of the 40th anniversary of the Daily Observer, I saw a vacant or undeveloped land, which could also be used for such project. I am not suggesting that the vacant areas I saw are free, but I think negotiation can be done for proper and legitimate ownership.
Thankfully, it appeared that many members of the Liberian Senate and I slept on the same bed, in that as I was concluding this advisory piece, the Liberian Senate expressed concern about the ongoing construction and called for a halt and possible relocation of the project.
Again, I should not be misconstrued as opposing this initiative, but my concern is the location. A HINT TO THE WISE IS QUITE SUFFICIENT!
I Rest my case.