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Thursday, June 20, 2024

PRES. BOAKAI’S APPOINTMENT OF ALIOUNE KEBE AS AMBASSADOR FOR YOUTH AND SPORTS DEVELOPMENT SPARKS CONTROVERSY

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MONROVIA, LIBERIA – President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s recent naming of Senegalese citizen Alioune Kebe as Ambassador at Large for Youth and Sports Development has stirred up controversy and drawn criticism from industry stakeholders and officials.

In a letter dated April 10, 2024, and confirmed by Presidential Press Secretary Kula Fofana, Kebe was commended for his supposed commitment to advancing sports in Liberia and his role in youth training. However, many in the sector argue that Kebe hasn’t significantly contributed to sports development in Liberia.

There’s speculation among some stakeholders that Kebe’s appointment might be influenced by his alleged ties to President Boakai’s Political Advisor, Macdella Cooper. This claim hasn’t been independently verified. Additional inquiries reveal Kebe’s ownership stake in a goalkeeper academy previously named Sham Hands Professional Goalkeeping Academy, which was later renamed Kebe Goalkeeper Academy.

Despite rumors, Kebe doesn’t fully own the academy but is working on finalizing documents to acquire a share. Reports indicate Kebe has faced challenges in acquiring a Liberian football club, including a rejection from Freeport FC.

Alioune Kebe, born on November 24, 1984, is a former Senegalese footballer and owner of Senegal’s Mayacine Foot Centre. Currently, he has no sports investments in Liberia.

The controversial appointment has frustrated many within the sports sector, who argue that Liberia has several more qualified ex-professionals for the role. They see Kebe’s appointment as a disregard for local talent and a poor response to the country’s unemployment crisis.

There are suspicions of political influences behind Kebe’s appointment, as he seems immune to the criticism. Critics see this as a troubling start to sports development under President Boakai’s leadership and doubt the President’s promise of breaking from traditional practices.

In parallel, the Ministry of Youth and Sports grapples with budgetary challenges. Minister of Youth and Sports, Cllr. Jeror Cole Bangalu, recently presented before the joint budget committee to argue for an increased budget. The current budget stands at $2,998,201, a decrease from $6,862,801 in Fiscal Year 2023. Minister Bangalu seeks more funds to support various ministry programs, including sports, youth development, vocational education, and skills training.

While some have lauded President Boakai’s choice of Kebe, the appointment continues to receive significant backlash. Many stakeholders urge President Boakai to reconsider the appointment for the benefit of the sector and the nation at large. Credit, Julius Konton

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