Images by Patrice Juah.
Last month, the Harbel College (HARCO) women’s soccer team welcomed First Lady Clar Weah home from a two-week long trip focusing on the international status of women. The Indomitable Lady Hippos are one of Liberia’s few women’s intercollegiate football teams, but they’re not just here to change the football game. This team uses the sport to encourage more women to become engineers.
HARCO sits in Firestone, Liberia, at the center of Margibi County’s bustling landscape. Similar to other Liberian colleges, HARCO promotes education, but its unique sports program sets it apart from the rest. The Harbel College Sports Academy (HCSA) started in 2015, three years after HARCO became established. HCSA’s women’s program attracts and develops top female football talent from grades 9 to 12 and prepares them for enrollment in any of HARCO’s engineering programs.
Dr. Syrulwa Somah, HARCO president and professor says, “I want for HARCO to be the changing face of women’s professional soccer and engineering.”
Throughout the year HCSA hosts numerous high school outreaches, which include: tutoring in math, science and English; hygiene programs; and social events. HARCO has over 15 college programs. The institution offers three engineering programs — mechanical, civil and architectural. With so few women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), this program fills a professional void.
HARCO’s sports program also fills an athletic void. Each player on the 35 member team wants to play professional football. At HARCO, the young athletes can harvest their skills while obtaining an education. The Lady Hippos match up against community teams and have also played against Grand Bassa Community College. The team had wins against Bokay Town FC, Caroline Carter FC and Queens of Yellow Building, during the 2017 season. The team suffered one loss, last season, against Bushrod Island Queens. On March 30, the Hippos had a friendly match against Liberia’s National Team — the Lone Stars.
Mr. George Sesay Pele coaches the team. To learn more about the Indomitable Lady Hippos, visit the Harbel College online sports page.
Check out photos, from the March 24th “welcome home” greeting for the First Lady, below.