Monrovia - The Ministry of Youth and Sports has an uphill battle to successfully implement this year’s upcountry basketball tournament in Ganta, Nimba County.
The tournament is expected to run from the November 10-13 but is in dire need of a financial back-up.
Although government appropriated US$9,000 in the 2016/2017 national budget (US$600,204,076), which was signed into law by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on November 1, the sports ministry needs at least US$13,000 full run the tournament.
FrontPageAfrica understands that Vice President Joseph Boakai, who will deliver the keynote address on ‘integrity through sports’, is expected to augment government’s contribution with just two days to the kick-off.
Assistant Sports Minister Murvee Gray, who heads the organizing committee, is keeping everything to his chest but is upbeat about a successful tournament.
United States ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder and Peace Corps Liberia Country Director Kevin Fleming is expected in Ganta.
According to Gray, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was asked to make the appropriate diplomatic representation.
Officially known as the McGowan basketball tournament, it is held in honor of American PCV Herald Emmet McGowan, who dedicated 20 years to the development of basketball while working in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties in the 1970s as a mathematics instructor.
“The Americans have done so much for this country."
According to the history, an American Peace Corp Volunteer name Cherry Jackson was assigned at the St. Theresa’s Convent in 1964 and she introduced the game of kickball.
“She was actually teaching the girls American baseball but they were afraid of being muscular because of the physical nature associated with the sports.
And so a modified game of what is now known as kickball was adopted. So the Peace Corps have done so much in the areas of education and sports.
“In this light, we’ll be inviting the Peace Corps director and the American ambassador accredited near this capital will also be there.
We’ll be having the legislative caucus of Nimba County. So, this tournament will be bigger than it has been in the past,” Gray told UNMIL Radio’s What’s Going On program on August 27.
Gray said about 15 high schools from five counties will feature in the four-day event, which be held for the second time, after more than 20 years, at the United Methodist High School (UMHS).
They include defending champions Ganta UMHS, St. Mary's, Bishop Carroll and LASS from Nimba.
Others are 2014 champions St. Martins, Gboveh High and William V. S. Tubman-Gray of Bong; Zorzor Central High and LTI of Lofa; Bomi’s C. H. Dewey and Grand Bassa’s Brumskine High School.
The tournament was twice held in Gbarnga, Bong County after its re-launch in 2012 in partnership with the Liberia Basketball Association in a bid to revamp basketball as part of the ministry’s overall national sports revitalization agenda.
It was initiated in the 1970s to help promote the game among high schools in Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
Former national team player Caleb Dormah coordinated the re-launch and has been guaranteed the involvement of the Liberia Basketball Referees Association.
Prior to the wars, the champions included Margibi-based Booker Washington Institute (BWI), St. Martin and Ganta Methodist.
About the PCVs (from the US embassy)
More than 4,035 PCVs have served in Liberia since the program was established in 1962.
From 1962-1990 and 2008-2014 the Peace Corps has proudly placed over 4,000 volunteers in Liberia.
In August 2014, 108 PCVs were evacuated from high schools, teacher training institutes, and universities in 14 counties due to the Ebola outbreak.
Since then, Peace Corps has been adamant that volunteers would return to Liberia.
In June and October of 2015, and January of 2016, we celebrated the arrival of 23 Peace Corps Response Volunteers who taught math and science in high schools, supported future educators at teacher training institutions, and piloted literacy and malaria activities.
The Peace Corps Liberia program continues to focus on education.
Today, we are happy to place 50 two-year volunteers at governmental high schools in 15 counties, as well as seven one-year Response Volunteers who will serve as part of the Peace Corps public/private partnership with Seed Global Health, known as Global Health Services Partnership (GHSP).
These doctors, nurses, midwives, and anesthetist educators will be placed at training institutions and medical facilities.
The Peace Corps, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Health are working collaboratively to coordinate activities, which will improve the lives of students.
The Liberian government continues to make significant contributions to the program by granting Peace Corps full-time access to the Presidential lodge complex in Margibi County.
Peace Corps is honored to work in partnership with the government to assist in rebuilding the education and health sectors and to create the next generation of leaders in Liberia.