WEEKLY PROFILE : Mustapha Ishola Raji – The Right Man Sitting In The Right Place At LFA

Mr. Mustapha Ishola Raji, President of the Liberia Football Association

The President of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) Mustapha Ishola Raji is this week our Profile of the week; his love for the game and his professional leadership ability at this organization has won him lots of admiration both locally and internationally for his level of work at the LFA since his ascendancy two years ago.

‘Raji’ as he is affectionate call by many of his peers has been graded high by local football clubs for his improved leadership role, listed as ‘The Man Sitting In The Right Place At LFA’ has brought what many called a renewed and workable leadership amongst his colleagues who is doing all to brighten the image of the Country’s football club.

Flash Black: Lone Star’s new head coach, Peter James Butler and Liberia Football President Mustapha Raji signing the agreement for Butler to take over the national football team

Having given the mandate of four years to skillfully manage the affairs of the Country’s football club, ‘Mustapha’ in his vision believes the best way to improve the national teams which he has reportedly done with the support of his colleagues at the LFA worth commendation.

Flash Back: Raji was invited by President Macron as one of the beneficiaries in furtherance of Liberian President George Weah’s official visit to Paris, France to meet President Macron in February 2018.

Raji, 46, has proven his leadership ability at the LFA by doing those things that he promised during his campaign promises during the highly contested election LFA elections on the 8th of September, 2018, when noted, “We are looking forward to including others from the rural parts of Liberia, beginning at the school levels.”

Due to his professionalism and hard work as Liberia’s football boss last year was elected as vice president for the West African Football Union Zone A, his election at WAFU brought proud to the Liberia Football Association for his preferment as an executive of this regional football union.

Flash Back: LFA President Raji (right) at his first CAF Extraordinary Assembly with FIFA president Infantino.

Not only been recognized locally, the LFA President last year had the privilege to form part of an international gathering when he was among the stellar names in attendance when FIFA signed a strategic alliance and landmark agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD) to create positive change in society and communities where football will be used as a vehicle for education, development and social change.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and AFD chief executive officer Remy Rioux signed, and was also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron along with FIFA legends Marcel Desailly, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Bernard Lama and Candice Prévost at the Élysée Palace on 4 June.

Raji was invited by President Macron as one of the beneficiaries in furtherance of Liberian President George Weah’s official visit to Paris, France to meet President Macron in February 2018.

The agreement aims to develop collaboration between FIFA and AFD for the implementation of various social projects related to football, including the development of women’s football and Football for Schools Program.

President George Weah (3-L), receives his #14 jersey from Mustapher Raji (2-R), President of the Liberia Football Association(LFA), an other officials after an international friendly match between Liberia and Nigeria, to mark the final retirement of his official #14 jersey for Liberia, at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, Liberia, Sept. 11, 2018. EPA-EFE/AHMED JALLANZO

Fifa and AFD will be partners and cooperate on joint projects in Africa with two main objectives: gender equality and women’s empowerment.

During that meeting, the French President Macron said that equality between women and men is the great national objective of his five-year term.

LFA, President Mustapha Raji alongside Qatari FA president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa

The AFD has a strategic objective called a “100-percent social link”, in particular through the inclusion of women and the fight against gender inequality.

In terms of empowerment, the AFD will promote women’s participation in sport and partner with FIFA to implement FIFA’s new strategy for women’s football.

FIFA’s 2016-2026 road map, which is also known as “FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future”, sets out several tangible and measurable goals for the development of football, among which is a commitment to significantly raise the number of women and girls playing football, up to 60 million.

As part of its new vision, FIFA adopted a strategy for women’s football in October 2018 with the aim of developing the women’s game and using football as a powerful unifying factor and tool to bring about positive societal change, fight inequality and empower girls and women around the world.

FIFA, through its Football for Schools Program, aims to reach over 700 million girls and boys around the world and invest US$120 million over the next four years with the overall objective of making football more accessible to children everywhere and contributing to their education, social development and empowerment.

LFA President Mustapha Raji

FIFA and the AFD will combine resources and implement joint programs to promote football as a sport for all, socio-educational projects and equality in football, as well as invest in local infrastructure.

These initiatives will run alongside existing programs being carried out by the AFD as well as ongoing projects in member associations as part of the Fifa Forward and Football for Schools program.

In furthering relationship with the international body, the LFA boss also as one of this initiatives of building a viable institution held talks with FIFA President Infantino during his visit in Zurich in 2018 about issues surrounding football development in Liberia and financial sanctions imposed by FIFA on the past administration of the LFA.

According to report, the LFA president made the meeting appointment with the football world governing body president during the Confederation of African Football (CAF) 12th Extraordinary Congress held on September 30, 2018, in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh — his first CAF special sitting.

Since Raji’s ascendency as president of the LFA, there have been some level of progress made at the local football house and the national league; a progress that has been embraced by Liberian football followers.

As a man of principle, the LFA boss the same years, 2018 ordered two officials of the LFA to Restitute L$440,000 allegedly embezzled after they were reportedly accused of embezzlement of the money from the account of the football house.

Those linked were Matthew Diggs, director of competitions, and Josiah Toe, the former Chairman of the Montserrado County Sub Association, upon Mr. Raji’s instruction, Diggs and Toe are with immediate effect, restitute the money they embezzled from the National 3rd Division Championship Registration fees.

During one of his interviews with reporters, Mustapha Raji bragged noting, “We Remain Committed to Football Development”, and further said, “We are proud that they have created a means for other young Liberians to expose themselves and gain international experience.”

During his hard work and his closed relationship with the Federation of international Football Association (FIFA), in June of 2019,  the Senior Development Manager for Africa and the Caribbean, Solomon Mudege form part to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Liberian government, represented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and his organization, the LFA to develop the practice pitch valued at approximately US$700,000 at the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) sports complex with the laying of artificial turf and erection of fence to enable the LFA hold official matches.

The Liberia Football Association (LFA) presents assorted materials, valued at US$7,500, to the Liberian government’s fight against the corona virus disease (COVID-19).

After the ceremony at that time, the LFA President said “Today, we have clocked another mile in developing football in Liberia. Football development goes with infrastructures and I am happy that the government has agreed for Fifa to develop this land for the improvement of football. “I also want to use this opportunity to thank the people of Grand Bassa for allowing FIFA to develop the Doris Williams sports pitch for the good of football in Liberia,” said Raji.

Other projects discussed and approved by Fifa include the purchase of Vehicles; 30-seater Toyota coaster bus for the national teams; Toyota Hiace mini bus for the technical staff of the national teams, match commissioners, referees and other guests of the LFA and two Toyota 4X4 pick-ups for the secretary-general and technical director.

The rest include the LFA headquarters on the SKD Boulevard Road and the improvement of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS), including the provision of stadium lights for night games, plastic seating and infrastructures (roof, painting and dressing rooms) were also highlighted. The fencing of the George Weah technical center in Caresburg, seating capacity around the pitch, bore hole and water supply and a gym (physical fitness center) were put on the table.

Concluding, this writer it is indeed convincible that Mustapha Raji is sitting in the right place at LFA.

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About Cholo Brooks 13147 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.