Residents of Salt Beach and PHP Communities Get New Mini Sports Stadium; Facility has a built capacity for approximately 4,113 persons with a game capability of about 6,675 spectators. A FIFA standardized football pitch with two dressing rooms each, latrine and a shower component.
ld Man Nagbe Wesseh looked in awe at what he described as a magnificent transformation: A killing field transformed into a recreational facility for residents of the populous PHP community.
“I’m glad I’m alive to see this day,” the old man told a bystander, one of hundreds who were on hand for the program marking the official opening of “The Fields Sports Stadium” Saturday at the stadium site in the old AFL Barrack at the Barclay Training Center in the PHP Community.
Robert Sirleaf, the senior advisor to the president paid homage to Chevron Liberia, Roxanne Cason and Friends in New York City for contributing to the project he says will now be a source of happiness for many, a place of comfort, a place that will never be forgotten and a place that will help communities unite, a place where all Liberians can celebrate each other.
Sirleaf lamented that many privileged Liberians may fail to realize that it is out of service, sacrifice and sweat that Liberia; our sweet land of liberty can develop. “These things have been dedicated to undertake development projects aimed at bettering lives and this project is just one”
The senior Advisor said The Field is their own way of giving back to the communities across Liberia.
Not about Revolution, but evolution
The senior advisor told the residents of PHP that their question should not always be what are my entitlement or what government is doing for me, but they should be asking what their responsibilities are, they should not always ask what the government has for them but what they can get from the government. “Today Liberia is not about revolution but evolution of a new legacy where all the children of elected officials can participate fairly and contribute to national and human resource development”, Sirleaf declared.
Sirleaf continued: “Today is not about demonstration but cooperation. So be with us to make the difference, surely my brothers, my sisters, my mothers, my fathers, it is not about party affiliation or personal interest but about community cooperation and national interest”.
The senior advisor further said that it is not about the promises to be made in the coming months and the day before elections but the promises that have already been delivered today, and it is not about betraying the political struggle of a political party, it is about the struggle of national development.
“It is not about Robert Sirleaf, it is about the youths of Central Monrovia, West Point, Slipway, Clara Town, Logan Town, Sonewein, Doe Community South Beach and New Kru Town. It is all about the youths of Liberia and the destiny of our future and our future generations. We stand with you people today in keeping the promise to the people of Central Monrovia” Mr. Sirleaf to Front Page Africa.
Initial intent – a children’s village
The mini-sports stadium was once the home of the Ministry of Defense. It was demolished by former President Charles G. Taylor administration in 2002. The intent was to construct a village for children residing in Monrovia. But the government never initiated nor completed the project.
As Liberia’s economy fell into a steep decline, the 5 acres became home of squatters, gangs, and criminal activities. In December 2008, the surrounding residents of PHP/Salt Beach forcibly removed these groups from the locale. The Fields became barren, containing broken structures with half built/ruined concrete foundations. The neighborhood youth eventually turned the south end portion into a sandy football practice grounds. Construction initiated in December 2010, and completion/dedication May 2011.
Salt Beach and PHP both are economically deprived communities with a population of approximately 18,857 residents. In August 2010, the Office of the Senior Advisor engaged PHP and Salt Beach communities through their leaders to determine needs and provide basic socio economic requirements of residents. That engagement led to the construction of latrines, eight compartments Hand Pumps, 4 Solar lights nine scholarships for some 20 persons (primary thru university levels) and a FIFA-Regulated-sized football pitch. The overall project is expected to impact the lives of about 89% of the PHP population.
It is estimated that 27 Liberian Football Association (LFA) fourth division, 33 third division, and approximately 43 Inter-high School Sports Association (ISSA) teams for a total of 103 teams are expected to practice and play games at The Fields. This increases the impact of the project beyond the borders of the PHP and Salt Beach communities.
The 5 acres on which the sports stadium was constructed was once owned by the MOD. After a successful community engagement by the OSA with community leaders and residents, the OSA negotiated with the MOD authority in an effort to construct a mini sports stadium/recreational center for community residents. The Office of the Senior Advisor (OSA) in September 2010 made a proposal and acquired the land from the MOD.
In December of 2010 the OSA contracted QLCC Construction Company (LIB) for the leveling and constructing of a mini sports stadium with a capacity of approximately 4,113 spectators. The company began work on December 28, 2010 and completed within the period of one hundred ten days (110). The mini sports stadium was constructed to accommodate residents of Central Monrovia and its surrounding communities.
The sports stadium has a built capacity for approximately 4,113 persons with a game capability of about 6,675 spectators. A FIFA standardized football pitch is hard natural soil. The Field has two dressing rooms each of which has office, latrine and a shower component. In addition, the stadium also has a full court-basketball, playground, volleyball court, eight compartments latrine, two hand pumps, and a non-regulated practice football pitch. The mini stadium is the OSA second largest project with all major components, constructed and delivered on time at a cost of approximately USD $429,055.00.
Grass roots football is a major and large component of sports in Liberia. Footballers usually lack appropriate pitch for practice and games. But that is all about to change with the arrival of The Field which will accommodate a grass root football program for Central Monrovia and its surroundings.
‘This is yours’
The OSA extends projects implementation to economic empowerment. The model encompasses construction of latrines, hand pumps, and sport stadium from which revenue are generated. This maintenance model creates sustainability of continual community development, through the implementation of additional projects finance by the revenue generated.
On Saturday, Sirleaf welcomed the Youths of PHP, South Beach, Lynch Street, Sonewein, Buzzy Quarter and Bassa Community to “The Fields Sports Stadium” he described at their new home. “This is yours,” he said. Mr. Sirleaf was presented a gown by PHP Community elders for building such an important sports ground in their community.
For her part, President Sirleaf reminded the residents of the area that her work in communities did not start this year and not in the last five years but in 1998 after she lost the election in 1997.
The president said she organized an NGO but said at the time, she was out of the country but people were in Grand Gedeh, Nimba Montserrado and Bomi Counties working in the field of agriculture until they started to face difficulties which could not allow them to continue.
Today, the President said, when Robert Sirleaf works in a community, he is only carrying on the family tradition proudly for Liberia and proudly for the Liberian people. “We were told by our mother that our hard work come from our family tradition. I will always preserve, honesty, hard work and humanity and we have never deserve from that cause”.
President Sirleaf thanked her son and all the young people who made The Field construction possible.“This is the spirit of what we are all about and that is the spirit that will move Liberia forward. Talk is cheap, talk is cheap, let people talk, but we want to see people who are in action, who are working, who are producing, who emulating. When you do that we all will come together as one people to build on nation.”
Grace Kpan, Superintendent of Montserrado County told the residents of PHP and its surroundings that the day was a happy one and that she in particular glad to be involved in a project that has gotten rid of the ghetto.