Featured image: Liberia Football Association (three Liberian women who are referee officials with FIFA badges).

As Go Team Liberia celebrates Women’s History Month, we want to highlight the women’s division of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) 2021-2022 Orange National League, the Under 17 (U-17) National Women’s Team, and the women who support them.

Liberian women have continuously made their mark in history. Although not many in the sports world, they sit on the boards of organizations, carry the Lone Star banner high into stadiums, and set national records. Clearly, women in sports and sports leadership is necessary and plays a major role in sports development.

Orange National League Women’s Division

Overall, 10 national teams have a spot on this season’s competitive women’s football roster. The football clubs (FC) include: Ambassadors, Blanco FC, City Football Academy, DC Shooters, Determine Girls, Earth Angels, Hippopotamus FC, Shaita Angels FC, Soccer Ambassadors FC, and World Girls.

The Orange National League 2021-2022 women’s football season began in November and consists of 16 rounds. With only three rounds remaining, last season’s reigning champions, Determine Girls, appear to be on course to become back-to-back national league winners. 

Orange National League Competition Table

Women who lead

Meanwhile, the LFA posted a Facebook announcement stating three Liberian female referees will serve as officials in the Women U-17 World Cup Qualifiers between hosts Senegal and Ghana. That match will take place on March 5, 2022. This will be the first time, in over a decade, that a team of Liberian women have refereed an international qualifier, according to LFA’s Facebook post. Central referee Sylvina Garnett, along with assistant referees Tracy Chayee and Hannah Moses all have FIFA badges.

Additionally, the LFA has elected five women at the Extraordinary Congress to serve four-year terms on various committees. Disciplinary Committee chairman, Counsellor (Cllr.) Kula Jackson; Appeal Committee chairman, Cllr. ​​Edwina E. Barchue, Appeal Committee member, Comfort Cooper; Arbitration Committee co-chair, Hon. Nora Finda Bundoo; and Audit & Compliance Committee co-chair, Mariam P. Lai Willie.

Another impressive leader within the LFA, Famatta Dean, has stood out for many years. The former 2012 National Women’s Team captain now coaches the U-17 National Women’s Team. Dean has had an extensive football career dedicated to women and sports in Liberia.

In a 2018 interview with GTL, Dean shared her excitement when the First Lady became a Confederation of African Football (CAF) ambassador saying, “I believe female football will be developed because it has been neglected in the hands of men.” Despite the noticeable advancements, since then, the LFA recently certified 24 coaches and only two are women—Euphemia Wilson and Patience Gwah.

Coach Dean with U-17 National Team
Credit: LFA (Coach Dean working with U-17 National Women’s Team).

Lastly, Benita Urey, who serves as the current vice president of the Shaita Angels FC, has proven herself as yet another inspiring woman in football leadership.  

“The impact of sports gives the girls on my team something to look forward to,” Urey told Go Team Liberia.

Urey believes women’s involvement in football will encourage more girls to play the sport and she wishes for grassroots development from a young age. Under her leadership, four of her players qualified for the U-17 National Team—the most representation from one club. But she wants more than athletic involvement, Urey hopes to see more women become involved in sports leadership roles as well.

Urey with 4 U-17 members
Credit: T Kla Wesley (Benita Urey with four Shaita Angels who will be joining the U-17 National Team: Dorcas Acquah, Malusu Blama, Martha Sayon, Nelresa Teah)

Key players in the game

From the Orange National League, 11 young women have been provisionally selected for the U-17 National Team to compete at the World Cup Qualifiers. Goalkeepers: Asata Dulleh (Blanco FC), Martha Sayon (Shaita Angels FC), Rhoda Wiefue (Blanco FC); Defenders: Malusu Blama (Shaita Angels FC), Aline Capeheart (Ambassadors); Midfielders: Dorcas Acquah (Shaita Angels FC), Louise Brown (Soccer Ambassadors FC), Gloria Targbe (Ambassadors), Nelresa Teah (Shaita Angels FC); Hawa Fatomah (World Girls FC); and Strikers: Edwardline Jackson (Ambassadors), Dalphine Glao (Soccer Ambassadors FC), Wonder Juery (Soccer Ambassadors FC).

Twenty-five women were selected in total. The U-17 team includes players from both the upper and lower leagues between the ages of 15 to 17 years old. 

The first leg of Liberia’s Women U-17 World Cup Qualifiers takes place on Sunday, March 6 at 4:00 p.m. GMT at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) against Guinea. This match will be held behind closed doors due to international COVID-19 protocols.

Liberia vs. Guinea U-17 match flyer

As for round 14 of the Orange National League, it has been postponed in light of the qualifiers. 

Future of Women’s Football

Knowing the passion that these Liberian women have for football should encourage additional support in the future. In the meantime, celebrating the current progress will leave a trail for the next generation to follow. 

We salute these women for their talents on and off the pitch, as well as their efforts in leadership!