Summary Of The Reunion Programs
Held On August 21-23, 2015
By Yanqui Zaza
Former players, supporters and well-wishers of the Invincible Eleven and Majesty Sports Association in the Diaspora, across the breadth and length of the United States, such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, etc., met in the City of brotherly love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 21 through August 23, 2015 under the name “Reunion of Players and Supporters of Invincible Eleven.” They did not only address outstanding issues related to the Invincible Eleven (I.E.) in the diaspora, but also did review impediments affecting the performance of current athletes and the solvency of the Invincible Eleven & Majesty Sports Association (IEMSA).
The attending delegates, during the three days of the reunion program, did recognize, through their deliberations, that they are aware of the current poor state of organization of the parent organization in Liberia. The delegates, therefore, pledged to explore every necessary avenue to restore the team to its former glory. They agreed that in order for the team to recapture its former glory, its former players must emerge from isolation and assume a leading role in the effort that will examine the possibility of restructuring the organization and transforming it into a formidable profit-making one.
The activities of the reunion program began Friday night with “meet and greet” at the residence of Massaboi Hamadu in Sharon Hill, Philadelphia. Prominent among the revelers were Sarkpa Nyanseour, a former defender known as “The Rock of Gibraltar,” Vinitius Charley, also a great player on the IE’s team in the late 70s, Edwin Morgan, a former IE left-winger, and Mr. Michael Wreh, former chairman of the IE Union Board of Directors. During the hours at the “meet and greet,” both supporters and players recalled their favorite IE’s victories that brought joys to them. After reminiscing about the glory days during the “meet and greet” hours on Friday evening, August 21, 2015, the delegates, on Saturday morning, among many substantive issues, did focus on restructuring the Invincible Eleven & Majesty Sports Association. In addition to re-ma
king I.E. into a prosperous entrepreneurship, they discussed other long-term, as well as short-term issues, including, but not limited to the following:
1) That I.E. & Majesty Sports Association should identify and search for ways and means to provide emergency assistance to former players as well as former sponsors who are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
2) That I.E. & Majesty Sports Association should begin to study how it can provide an environment conducive for young players to improve their talents, skills, and academic achievement, noting that a significant number of Liberian young athletes are lacking behind academically.
3) That I.E. & Majesty Sports Association in the Diaspora should establish fund raising committee to formulate programs and identify institutions and individuals with the requisite expertise in order to improve Invisible Eleven’s financial positions.
4) That I.E. & Majesty Sports Association in the Diaspora shall meet in Trenton, New Jersey on November 14, 2015, to continue the re-structuring efforts that began few years ago.
Prior to discussing these issues among a series of ideas and programs, the delegates listened to the chairman of the Reunion Committee, Mr. Benedict Wisseh, who appealed to the membership that they should not forget about the needs of former players and sponsors who provided entertainment for citizens in Liberia as well as citizens in Africa. Mr. Wisseh stated that former players who are doing better than their former colleagues, are morally duty bound to help them. “We cannot condemn sports administrators in Liberia for neglecting the welfare of former players, when we do not help them individually or as a group. He added that new players and potential sponsors might be encouraged to gravitate towards I.E. & Majesty if they perceived I.E. as a team that provides for former players. Mr. Wisseh challenged his colleagues to assume this moral responsibility without hesitation. He concluded that “I rather give a former teammate $20.00 while he is alive than to contribute $50.00 to bury him.”
Adding their voices to the issue of offering assistance to former players and sponsors and restructuring I.E. & Majesty Sports Association were the current Interim Chairman of the Board of Directors of I.E. Union, Mr. Morris George and the interim president of the I.E. Union, Mr. Phillip Klah. The interim chairman, did not only extend thanks to Benedict Wisseh and other members of the Reunion Committee, he invited former players in the diaspora to come together and do more for other colleagues in need. Mr. Phillip Klah did echo assertions of the interim chairman and reminded his colleagues that all things are possible through collective efforts. He informed the delegates that there are three active chapters among the seven chapters of I.E. Union.
Not related to I.E., Mr. Klah, the interim President of I.E. Union, announced that he has been elected president of the Liberian Community Association of North Carolina and will be inaugurated on 31 October 2015. He invited everyone to his inaugural ceremony.
Following the conclusion of the deliberative session, the delegates packed their writing pads and pens and marched onto the football field on Linsburg Avenue, where IE old timers took on their archrival Mighty Barrolle’s old timers. The Barrolle’s side was led by Patrick Sarr, Solomon Joe, Mass Sarr Jr., and Patty George Rossi while IE was led by Anthony “Teacher” Gray, “ Sarkpa Nyanseour, Sam Sumo, Edwin Morgan, Amando Sarnor, Manju Fahnbulleh, Phillip Tarplah, and Vinitius Charley. Although the better days of these players have long gone, some of them occasionally displayed moments of brilliance with the ball that resurrected discussions of games the two teams played against each other in Liberia. For the entire sixty-minute life of the game, the old timers thrilled the fans. The Invincible Eleven defeated Mighty Barrolle 3-2 with winning goal scored by Massaboi Hamadu. The I.E. team was guided by Darlington Galtogbah, known around Philadelphia as Coach, George Harris, a former IE midfielder who travelled from Minnesota, and Solomon “Osaka” Wisseh. For the Barrolle side, serving as coaches were Jerry Verdier, a former center-forward, and Zeogar Wilson, a former goalkeeper. The end of the football game gave way to the revelers to focus on the Saturday night program.
The program, which was emceed by Jerry Wion, a former Liberian sports commentator with ELWA and ELBC, opened with a prayer and was followed by remarks of thanks and appreciation by some members of the IE Players and Supporters Reunion Program. As its commitment to shining the spotlights on former Liberian athletes, the organizing committee of the reunion selected Charles Wordsworth as the keynote speaker. Mr. Wordsworth, a former basketball player of the Invincible Eleven and the Liberian national basketball team, just as he has thrilled basketball audience on the basketball court, took the audience into the history of Liberian sports.
Mr. Wordsworth recounted the history of IE, informing the audience that the team was formed in the 1940s by some high school students, led by the recently deceased Joseph Richards, from the College of West Africa (CWA). In his delivery, Wordsworth told the audience that since 1962, IE has won 13 Liberian Football Association League titles, the most in the history of the football association. As evidence of its domination, the team won the league titles from1963 to 1966 and 1980 to 1985. On the international scene, he revealed to the audience that IE was the first Liberian football team to have defeated a Nigerian football team in Nigeria when the “Yellow Boys” defeated Western Rovers 3-1 in Ibadan. As if to satisfy the appetite of the audience, Wordsworth reached deep again in Liberian sports history and disclosed to them that IE was the first Liberian team that defeated a Brazilian team 3-1 in 1965 in Monrovia and Accra Hearts of Oaks of Ghana 1-0. In concluding his speech, Wordsworth paid tribute to Samuel Burnette, Edwin J. Gabbidon, Joseph G. Richards and Ma Juah, deceased IE sponsors, for the unselfish commitment of their personal resources to the administration of IE and the wellbeing of its players.
Mr. Wordsworth’s speech was preceded by Amos P. Zaroe’s remarks at the program. Mr. Zaroe, president of the United States based Mighty Barrolle Sports Association, appealed to supporters of the two rival teams to work together in order to ameliorate the poor conditions of both teams. Mr. Zaroe, who had generously participated in the three-day program, revealed to the audience of plans by his administration to stage a reunion program, too. He asked former players and sponsors of the “Rollers” to be prepared for the upcoming program. With appeals from President Zaroe and the Keynote Speaker’s narrative of IE’s history, the floor was opened for the audience to dance until 2am.
On Sunday, the delegates met again and did dine, wine, and share ideas at the “cook out,” which was awesome. Mr. Massaboi Hamadu, speaking on behalf of the Reunion Committee at the “cook out held at the residence of Lydia “The General” Jones, president of the IE Philadelphia Chapter, thanked the officers and members of the I.E. Chapter of Pennsylvania, former players and sponsors who made the program a success. He thanked everyone such as Eric Karsor, Sando Johnson, Winston Jordan, Mr. Jerome Paul, George Telewoda, Lydia Jones, Darlington Galtogbah, and Daniel Cooper Dobson.
In closing, Mr. Benedict Wisseh, the chair of the Reunion Committee, invited all former players and sponsors to attend the November 14, 2015 Special Convention to help restructure the Invincible Eleven and the Majesty Sports Association at home and abroad. He extended thanks and appreciation to many I.E. members and sympathizers who did not come to the Reunion program because of other pressing matters, but offered their support for the program. He said “let us unite and help our colleagues and former sponsors who are having difficulties in making ends meet in Liberia and in the diaspora.” He thanked Eric Karsor, Sando Johnson, George Telewoda, John Gabbidon, Corvah Akoiwala, Rudolph Perry, Emmanuel Kandakai, Alphonso Sirleaf, Massaboi Hamadu, and others so many to name for their wholehearted support for the program and its purpose.