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Retired Player Decries Neglect Of Youth Football In Cameroon

Posted by Admin on Apr 26th, 2010 and filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The Post| Monday, 26 April, 2010|The Post|

Retired Indomitable Lions player, Thomas Libiih shares the 1990 World Cup memories on the eve of the first World Cup in African soil in the Cup’s 80 years history. He sees the national team as a young team with a good future and cautions that Cameroonians should be ready to take the outcome of the World Cup lightly if the team does not happen to go far. He provides an insight into what he has been doing at retirement and he says no woman stays with him because he is never there and spends his time in a football field. But, he is bitter that retired players do not enjoy social security. He spoke to The Post in a football field at the Nsimeyong Neighbourhood in Yaounde. Excerpts

Thomas Libiih, how are you today?

I think everything is fine and getting on for the better when you are surrounded with children, there is nothing more beautiful than this.

You were part of the 1990 World Cup expedition; what was the mood before the famous Cameroon-Argentina match; was there tension?

To say there was tension is an overstatement, it depended on our state of mind, and we knew that we had a hard nut to crack in front of us. That is what motivated us besides the state of mind of the group.

How can you describe the team’s  state of mind at the time?

We were one, there was solidarity in all decisions concerning us and before the match against Argentina, we had a lot of problems during the training camp, but when we arrived in Italy, we concentrated, as we knew what was awaiting us and what to do. We could have gone far but it is unfortunate that we stopped at the quarter finals.

Did you think before the game that you had a chance to beat Argentina?

I think is was not easy, it is true that we had to limit the damage but we knew that if we could contain the team to about 80 minutes we had the chance of winning with attackers like Roger Milla, Oman Biyick and Louis Paul Mfede.

Can you describe that goal that won the match?

It was a goal like others and it is an extra-ordinary thing for François Oman Biyick. It was an exploit and when I recall the match today I see that vertical descend, it was extraordinary and I think we cannot forget that beautiful moment because world recalls it today.

After the game did you realise that you had humiliated the world champion?

We were shocked and surprised. There were no words to describe the situation and even up to today. We did not know where we were and even the next day during training. We were surprised to know that we had beaten Argentina. But it was a football match with 50/50 chances and we knew everything could happen and the most important thing is that Cameroon demonstrated that the world could count on African football.

What was the peculiar thing about that match 20 years ago?

All that is now history and forgotten we did not make good use of the opportunity to improve our football and win a lot of things from the victory and the World Cup. We did not manage the gain well and today instead of advancing we are regressing. Football today is the inheritance of the country and if people are not conscious of that, it is a pity.

What is your expectation of the World Cup that is coming to Africa for the first time in 80 years?

The World Cup is coming to Africa, thanks to the performance of African players and today you cannot talk of world football without Africa. This is because when you look at African players today in Europe we see big clubs that use them. So, we should not talk European but world football. There is no difference and a football game can be won at any moment no matter the country. There is no big difference, the only problem I have is the level of management of the team.

What do you think of football management in Cameroon?

Football is poorly managed as people only think of money and not of football.

What is your take on the preparation of the national team for the World Cup?

The team is very young with good players and a good future. In relation to the World Cup, I think a lot still needs to be done. There is need to take what could happen lightly and if we go far it is fine, but it would be better to manage the situation if we don’t go far with the present team.

After 1990 what has become of Thomas Libiih?

I went to the 1994 World Cup in the US, after that I decided to come back home and take care of the youth. I created the Libiih Thomas foundation, a school for life for the African child. From here the idea of a sports academy cropped up.

Presently, the foundation manages 430 children that come from different regions and we have three teams in the third division, two that play in the fourth division and teams in the youth championship besides other teams that are part of the sports academy. I think I am into benevolent work and the children who are here do not pay a dime, they get free training and we do everything for them to become responsible in future. It is not only football; we are here to protect human beings.

Is it easy to manage 430 children?

No, I have no help from anybody, I try alone because I have concern for the children and I was equally a child so, we need to help them and any help is welcomed.

What is the state of youth football in Cameroon?

I don’t know if youth football exists, we try to accompany those who organise FECAFOOT. But I think youth football has no importance in Cameroon as people are just there to make a place in the sun and use children to achieve their interest and that is disturbing.

What is the future of the kids in the foundation?

Our main aim is to occupy them, make them dream that they could become like us in the past and show them the other parameters of life, to know that they are important and that they can go to school and equally do other things that can earn them a future.

Is it easy to make a living with charity?

The first thing to do is to save lives and secondly I created the sports academy and I am not waiting for anything from anyone but I welcome what can come. I am indebted with about FCFA 85 million in running the foundation it does not mean anything to the parents who watch from a distance. It is worrying but it is like that. I would not stop but continue and wait for God’s help.

What is the life of a retired player like?

It is not possible to make a living after retiring as a footballer, my wife left me and I have a lot of problems with my children. It is not easy either with my mother as we are not on talking terms because of the academy. All I have I put it in the academy. I spend my time in a football field; we do not make any profit, no support either from FECAFOOT, Social Affairs or Sports Ministries. But, I would get to the end no matter what it takes to bring up one or two children, they may not be Maradonas or Eto’s but if something can happen for one or two tomorrow it will be fine.

Who is Thomas Libiih?

I still remain a small street boy that I was in the past, small enterprising child.

Presently are you married?

No woman stays with me because I am never there. I have 12 children and one, 17, has just signed a contract for ‘Pantakikos’ a first division club in Greece and the second is in a sports academy in Italy. I think I am not wasting my time and this is the fruit of my work that gives me courage.

Is Libiih Thomas a happy man?

How can we be called ambassador when we have no matriculation with the social insurance fund? This means we have no social security.

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