ATLANTA, GA: Even as sports authorities in Liberia are yet to accept his conditions for handling the national team, Lone Star, Coach Youssef Darbaki of Minnesota, USA, is going all out to handle a team of Liberian soccer players for the country’s July 26 Independence Day Celebrations in the Twin City.
“Liberia’s Independence Day,” he said, in a telephone conversation, “is an important part of the people and therefore I am handling here for games that are planned for it.”
Coach Darbaki, who has handled Liberian soccer players in the United States since 2000, insists he knows the mentality of Liberian soccer players, and therefore handling the national soccer team may not provide him with any headache.
“Players like Ansu Toure and Francis Doe are my boys,” he said, “I know their importance and they can lead the way for others to follow.”
Ansu Toure is the Liberian international midfielder who was transferred from Miami FC Blues for an undisclosed financial amount to Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Canada, for a two-year contract.
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson was quoted as saying during the transfer that he was impressed with the Liberian, for “he brings a ton of speed, a great first touch, and a natural ability to score goals.”
And recently when the Canadian authorities decided the 27-year-old Liberian could be convinced to join the Canadian national soccer team, coach Darbaki said he convinced the soccer star not to agree.
“I see myself rebuilding a new team for Liberia,” Coach Darbaki said, “and I could not allow such a talented player to slip away from my hands.”
In a telephone conversation with Ansu Toure recently, the Liberian star said, “I want to play for my country and with the encouragement of coach Darbaki; I am not prepared to play for any country.”
At the time, Francis ‘grandpa’ Doe, a leading player on Liberia’s national team, said, “Coach Darbaki gives many of our Liberian players the encouragement and direction we need to pursue our trade as professionals and he has contacts in Europe. His presence as head coach will send Liberia to places.”
He meanwhile spoke highly of players Richard Kamara, Jeffery Myers, John Menyonga and Melvin Tarley, as few of the players, who would serve as a nucleus for the Lone Star.
Coach Darbaki revealed an interesting development in his determination to handle the Liberian national soccer team, Lone Star.
“I spoke with sports authorities in Morocco,” he said, “and they were excited with my desire to handle the Lone Star, and in fact I’ve been offered a facility for the team in Morocco.”
He said Moroccan officials have assured him that once he is handling the national team of Liberia, sporting/training facilities in Morocco are his to use free of charge.
“With Liberia’s recent past,” he said, “Moroccans want to help Liberia by allowing Liberians to use any sporting facility in the country for camping and training.”
Recall that at age 23, Coach Darbaki was a member of the national team of Morocco, The Atlas, when King Hassan of the Kingdom accepted an invitation from Liberian authorities in the 1980s, and played a friendly match against the Lone Star in Monrovia.
Moroccans, he said, have not forgotten the mesmerizing performances of Liberian soccer greats, led by the ex-King of the Golden Turf, George Manneh Weah in Europe, and therefore, are prepared to assist Liberia develop its abundant soccer talents.
Coach Darbaki revealed that he is one of the founding members of the Olympic Development Program (ODP), which presently has a total number of 135 youths, (U-15—U-19) in Minnesota, and has concluded agreement to use its training facilities for the future Lone Star.
“I’ve also made contacts in France, Spain and Libya,” he said, “to use facilities there for the future Lone Star.”
Coach Darbaki, who is also head coach of Minnesota Twin Stars, assured Liberian sporting populace that he meant business and with their support, the Lone star will rise again.
Since Coach Darbaki made his interest to manage the national known and was published on the internet and in Liberia, hundreds of Liberians, coaches both at home and Asia and Europe have not let him in peace.
“My telephone continues to ring, day and night,” he said, “all of them pleading with me to keep my promise to help Liberia.”
He said the outpouring of support and appeals from Liberians have been so overwhelming that he is prepared to assist the country develop a system that will make young players useful to first division teams, the U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23 national teams and eventually to the national team, Lone Star.