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The Edmonton Lone Star Dilemma: A Saga or an Omen?

Let's join the conversation.  If you decide to register your thoughts on this delicate matter, may I remind you that "the power to criticize should be equally matched by the power to contribute."  If you have nothing to say, say nothing.  The intention here is to unite and WIN.  To share your thoughts, you may need to sign up at the African Palava Hut.

As students, nationals, citizens and patriots of the Republic of Liberia, hailing from the shores of West Africa, we were always obliged to pronounce the Pledge of Allegiance -  "I pledge allegiance to Flag of Liberia, and to the Republic for which it stands.  One nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."  This Pledge of Allegiance signified a declaration of Pride, Dignity and Freedom for every Liberian to enjoy the way of life that we have all encountered and become, anywhere, at home or wherever we find ourselves in the world. 

There is a group of Liberians that find themselves in one of the most prosperous cities in the entire world.  Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta.  When a city has as much going for it as Edmonton, it is easy to see why the region is enjoying exceptional economic growth, high employment and increasing prosperity.  Home to Canada’s most diverse metropolitan economy, Edmonton offers an exceptional quality of life, a highly skilled workforce and a cost-competitive business environment making it one of the best places to work and live in the Canada.

The pros and cons as to whether or not, or how much and to what end or advantage Liberians are engaging, benefiting or utilizing their talent in this city, that remains relative. As the parlance goes - "To Each His Own."  There is a thriving Liberian community with a local leadership that is struggling to maintain a solid foundation of unity.  But that is not the subject matter here.  What prompted this article are the actions of groups of Liberian sports enthusiasts that are making rather negative headlines in the city. 

The Edmonton Lone Star is a soccer sports club that has made some remarkable headlines in the soccer arena here in Edmonton.  Rising from the depths of 4th division a couple of years ago, they heralded extraordinary labor and talent to make to the ranks of 1st division.  Now that they are amongst the elite at the top in 2014, one would think they would be gearing up in unity to face the challenges of 1st Division competition.  To make a conscious effort to work together, play together, win together.  There is no better time to live out the Pledge as one nation, one team, indivisible with liberty and participation for all.  Instead, there is war or rumors of war in the ranks of the team.  There has been a break away faction that we understand are willing to start all over from 4th division.  The thought of now having two Liberian teams in the 2014 Edmonton Division League is sad. 

By this article, I am hoping to provoke an urgent and intense discussion that could reverse this negative course of actions before it is too late.  We are calling on the two de facto leaders of the two soccer teams to reason and resolve their differences.  We are calling on the leadership of the Liberian Friendship Society of Edmonton to remain neutral, unbiased, to intervene and make things right.  This is one time Liberians have a chance to rise together and become Soccer Champions in Edmonton.  The fact that we have more enough players, enough to form two teams should be used as an advantage, and not as a divisive tool.

"A hint to the wise is quite sufficient."

Prince CT Darpoh

A Concerned Liberian

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Comment by Jonah D. Cooper on April 18, 2014 at 7:53pm

Before I begin, may I caution all of us to refrain from the temptation of using "war" as a metaphor to describe this misunderstanding. We all exhibit behaviors like any human being, but since the civil war, most negative behaviors of Liberians are often ascribed to our being affected by the civil war. The editor referenced this misunderstanding as a war and the other contributor referenced it as World War III. While I acknowledge that these references were unintentional, the mention of war could potentially influence the two rival groups to exhibit a lose and win attitude. That being said, may I attempt to comment on three problems that underlie this misunderstanding as follow:
1) lack of discipline
2) lack of strategic leadership
3) lack of a sense of community

Lack of Discipline

When I was the executive secretary of the Liberian Community in Edmonton, I always cautioned members of the Lone Star Team to exercise patience, demonstrate orderly behaviours, and possess a sense of oneness. Conversely, some people pictured me as being too administrative . On few occasions , some key founding members tried to be authoritative because they claimed to possess ownership of the team. Consequently, they discouraged some good players from honouring the leadership at the time. Other key members also tried to consider individual views with the impression of coming across as a unifier. Often times when team members were required to pay a certain fee before a game time, few people chose to wait to pay to their favourite leaders on the field right before game started. As a result, these so called leaders advocated that these players play because they claimed to be among the best players. These best players often did not attend practice sessions. Therefore, few committed players who always attended these practice sessions were often denied spots on the team during game times. Then the question is, what makes you a good player if you refuse to come to practice. In sports, it is always beneficial for team members to practice together so that each one will understand the pattern of each player. Correspondingly, they will be able to respond to those patterns on the field of play: this is what team work should imply.

Lack of Strategic Leadership

I can still recount an occasion when the Lone Star was going for an important game that would have potentially qualify her for first division. The leadership chose to play a different game instead of preparing for that important game. Consequently, the Lone Star missed that opportunity to usher into first division status. Past leaderships have failed to implement disciplinary measures that would encourage the team members to respect established rules. It is often obvious for players to choose to pay their dues or fees through certain people instead of through a legitimate payment mechanism. Implicitly , personal loyalty undermined the effectiveness of those legitimate leaderships.

Lack of a Sense of Community

During my tenure as executive secretary, our community leadership advised the Lone Star to keep her account with the community. The intention was to create the impression that the team was our community's team. We demonstrated our commitment to this impressing by having made the largest and most frequent financial contributions to Lone Star than any administration since 2007. To our disappointment, the leadership often reminded us that Lone Star was an autonomous entity that did not desire any community influence- yet they often asked the community to help them with finances. What picture will be painted if Edmonton Lone Star lacks a community of its own? Is this team a privately own team? There is no doubt that traditional politics has no place in sports. However, a sports team that bears the symbol of our nation must appreciate that it ia a thread in our web of community. Edmonton Lone Star will only affirm this reality if the team members understand this fact .

The way forward

The leadership of the Liberian Community needs to quickly engage all stakeholders . In the process, the leadership must recognize common themes of misunderstanding and identify a strategy to manage the expectations of both rival groups. The umbrella theme of such strategy will be to represent the Liberian Community as a team instead of two teams. The idea of a two team representation will communicate that there is a discord amongst the Liberians in Edmonton. Such an impression will make not only the community but also both teams vulnerable on the field of competition. I must also stress that such an attitude will mean that the community lacks social capital. Social capital is the benefits we get from the relationships we maintain with one another and other outside groups. Research on community development has shown that a community that lacks social capital is less likely to develop than a community that maintains strong social relationships. Importantly, this has become the basis of accessing public and donor funding for community development. This is not a time to brainstorm, but a time for immediate actions. We desire one team and not two. On the other hand, all the team members must rethink and adhere to individual and collective commitments that will form a common consensus to take our community forward . Remember that what we practice here today, will determine how Liberia will look like in the future. We are the generation that will assume the next leadership of our country. Consequently, we must behave as such.

Comment by Prince Flowers on April 18, 2014 at 1:56pm

This is a unique topic Mr. Darpoh and I do appreciate your effort in bringing about this. It is true that the community is getting enlarge with a lot more Liberians emerging from diverse vicinity of the country. When the idea came to have a second team of because a certain number of players expressed the lack of playing time, it was wholly and surely embraced by the Lone Stars team officials. After the break away, things started to become more intense as if there's some kind of World war lll. Players that broke away started developing some Kind of animosity as if it's a form of revenge at the point that rumors have it that one of them pull the fire alarm during the EDMONTON Lone Stars April 12th, 2014 Old School Jam after their free drinks basement party failed. And soon after the party getting away with such behavior, the break away team is now asking EDMONTON Lone Stars for an affiliation in this EDSA outdoor season league. My question than is, if you broke away due to playing time, why now you choose to affiliate and how do you hope to get that same playing time that you initially broke away for. I rest my case.

PLS note: these comments are my personal view and in no way represent the view of the Edmonton Liberian Lone Stars.

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