Original article published May 10, 2017 (Featured image by L.A.C.E.S)

It’s no secret. Sports have a tremendous impact on our lives. From the spectator to the athlete, sports can become more than entertainment or exercise. In fact, studies show that kids who participate in organized sports build communication skills, decisiveness, teamwork, time management, self-esteem and community. Researchers also link high academic performances and healthier lifestyles to sports participation, but the benefits don’t stop there.

Athletes have the responsibility to represent themselves, teammates and fans. Their skills can take them all over the world, introducing them to places and people from all walks of life. Sports also benefit spectators. As spectators cheer on their team, they create stronger bonds with each other. It’s no wonder humanitarians use sports as tools for improving society. Below, we highlight four Liberian-focused organizations that use the power of sports to change lives.

1. Bill Rogers Youth Foundation

Bill Rogers, the popular Liberian runner and 1500m national record holder, understands first-hand the opportunities sports create. Rogers established the Bill Rogers Youth Foundation in 2010 and has been using various sports to make a difference in Liberia since then. He’s hosted numerous sporting camps and competitions for Liberian youth, while raising funds to improve the community. The Bill Rogers Youth Foundation Facebook page showcases albums full of pictures from sporting events, team activities, and fundraisers.

Bill Rogers, in top center, with Liberian children during a sporting event. (Image taken from Bill Rogers Youth Foundation Facebook page).
2. Liberian Athletes Reunion

The Liberian Athletes Reunion (LAR) organization hosts the annual LAR event focused on uniting former and current Liberian athletes and sports enthusiasts from all over the world. Since 2014, LAR has gathered Liberians in various cities to focus on ways to implement projects that will assist and empower Liberian athletes of all ages. In the past, LAR has raised medical funds for a former coach and player. Last year, LAR hosted its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia USA from June 23-25.

LAR Reunion (Image taken from LAR website)
3. L.A.C.E.S

Life And Change Experienced through Sports. This is what L.A.C.E.S founder Seren Fryatt created in Liberia. After playing professional soccer in Liberia, the American athlete formed L.A.C.E.S, in 2007. The organization uses Christ as its mentor and soccer as its platform to develop the community and its most prized possession — its youth. Local leadership, community engagement and family support are three key factors in the LACES movement. Since 2008, local Liberians have operated L.A.C.E.S in Liberia.

Image taken from L.A.C.E. website.
4. Monrovia Football Academy

Launching in 2015, Monrovia Football Academy (MFA) is the first school in Liberia to combine formal education with football development. The school’s website outlines how the institution tackles issues in education, gender equality, football opportunities, nutrition, life skills and healthcare. Currently, MFA has 29 boys and 19 girls, ages 8-12, in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.

Academy 3rd Grader Christina Woart works on her fluency, projection and expression in reading class (Image taken from MFA website).

Each of the organizations listed above has demonstrated a strong understanding of the positive effects that sports can have on the community and athlete. Take the time to visit each website and learn more about what they are doing for Liberia.

What are some other sports organizations working to help Liberia’s youth? Share your favorite one with us.