How Liberia's new President paid the fee to greatness and what young players can learn from him

By Daily Sports on January 4, 2018

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A former grassroots footballer, one who rose from the slums and war ravaged Liberia of the 90s to become best player in the world in 2005, has just become the president of Liberia.

George Opong Weah,  the former Arsenal star defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai in the run-off presidential election recently held in that country and will now succeed President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson.

The National Elections Commission said that with 98.1% of ballots counted, Mr. Weah had won 61.5% of the votes cast while opponent, Joseph Boakai was far behind with 38.5%.

For young boys in the grassroots football level, there's a huge lesson to learn in the George Wear story. Here's a man who lacked basic education but had raw football skills. A man whose upbringing was tainted by a war that consumed many friends and family members and one which could dampen the highest of spirits and turn the most innocent of souls into a revengeful murderous monster.

But Weah had finer dreams. He wanted greatness in better ways than carrying a gun. For him, what separated him and the best football stars in the world were simply skills, mental and physical skills that he could learn. And he set apart to make the necessary sacrifices to become great.

A retired basketball player, now a world renowned psychologist, John Amaechi in one of his motivational videos on YouTube urged aspiring basketball stars to be ready to pay the FEE  to greatness if they ever really desired to be great.  By the FEE, Amaechi meant Focus, Effort and Execution.

Amaechi spoke of the need to focus in every aspect of the game, from the mundane to most important which is putting the ball in the basket. He argued that no detail, from the food one needs to take to perform at his physical best,  to getting the right amount of sleep in other to perform optimally, is unimportant.

He also urged the aspiring basketball player to put in the effort to practice at game speed.  And finally to be willing to execute what he's learned both in practice and at games repetitively, so that perfection would just be a habit.

Relating all these to George Weah,  we can see that he, not only paid the FEE to becoming a football great, but also paid the FEE after football to become a political great and today he has won the biggest political  prize of being president of a country.

Young grassroots footballers should look at the Weah story and find inspiration  from it. They should know that being great at football is not just about skin colour, connections or height, but skills; mental and physical skills that they can learn, just like Weah learnt.

They must focus on all aspects of football, from the mundane of trapping and passing the ball, to the end goal of putting it in the net. No detail of practice is too small to be given attention to. They need also to be willing to put in the effort to become great by actually getting up, rolling their sleeves and go out to practice constantly, as well as being willing to leave their comfort zones to much distant places to fight for a living.

Constant practice, added to a willingness to constantly execute what they have learned in the training pitch will be a good path to perfection.

The fact is that there is life after football. Not everyone will play to the professional level, and even those who go professional will know that the football profession is a comparatively short one in terms of years one spends actively doing the job. There would be a need to focus on other viable things to get by after the game.

This is what Weah realised and prepared himself for by delving into politics, apart from a pure desire to serve his people and improve their lot.

Failing to win his first shot at the presidency owing to Liberians concern about his level of education, Weah transferred that attitude of paying the FEE he had towards football to his political life. He went back to school and picked up a Master's degree and focused on forging the right alliances to finally realise his goal of becoming president.

Young players most surely realise that surviving in today's world demands a multidisciplinary approach to life. That means, at least,  keeping an eye on other things and having a good idea of what to do after football.

George Weah has proved that the most ordinary person in the most difficult of circumstances can become extraordinary if they worked hard. For a lot of young grassroots players and friends of mine who have been bombarding Facebook and talking about how 2018 is their year of breakthrough, boasting about how great they are destined to be and all that, the real question to them is are they really willing to pay the FEE to greatness?

Source Daily Sports

Posted January 4, 2018

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