Home Features Inspiration: What George Weah’s Presidency Means to African Footballers

Inspiration: What George Weah’s Presidency Means to African Footballers


By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

ABUJA (Sundiata Post) Colonialism dealt a heavy blow on Africa. Human and material resources were exploited in a way that development became almost impossible. This gave rise to Pan-African movements and calls for independence from the oppressive colonial lords. When independence was won, many observers within and outside the continent expressed hope for a different future – one that would enable the actualisation of dreams and aspirations, where human rights would be respected, and the standards of living improved.

Many decades down the lane, Africa is still fraught with the same challenges where living conditions continue to deteriorate. Mortality rates are higher than ever, diseases are spreading without curtailment; corruption is rife like wild fire. While the world is experiencing a jet age, most African countries are stuck in pre-industrial times, and in spite of independence and the abundance of resources, would have to depend on Western countries for survival.

The embarrassing situation in Africa has inspired those outside political spheres to bring in their passion and love for country into the usually different kettle of fish called politics. One of those notable men is the famous George Weah; a former world footballer of the year who has just been sworn in as the President of Liberia. After previous attempt at the presidency, George Weah has finally gotten an opportunity to prove himself. Though criticised for his lack of political experience, there is little to argue about why Liberians have elected the man who even as a private citizen sponsored the country’s national team, helped build schools and hospitals and served as an inspiration to many young people. When those with political experience continue to fall short, no one would blame the people for demanding a change; especially one that favours a man that has always worn his passion on his sleeves.

Many believe that George Weah’s presidency would serve as a morale booster for other African footballers with passion for their countries. Already, most of them have initiated goodwill projects targeted  at bringing succour to impoverished communities, or football academia that are offering hope to talented kids who are now moving to Europe for professional careers.  Through their foundations, former internationals like Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Diddier Drogba, Abedi Pele among others, including currently playing ones like Odion Ighalo are making huge impact in their respective countries. Samuel Eto has been very active in resolving the tension between Francophone and Anglophone citizens of Cameroon.

While George Weah has become the first former footballer to become an elected president of a country, other former football stars in Europe and South America are also making inroads into politics. Former Premier League star, Sol Campbell has become increasingly involved in politics since his retirement. He indicated his interest to run for the Mayor of London with the Conservative party in 2015 before failing to make the final shortlist. Former Brazilian great, Pele has served as the sports minister of that country between 1995 and 2001. Other famous stars like French Lilian Thuran, Brazilian Zico, Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko, among others have shown interest in politics, although mostly unsuccessful.

Undoubtedly, George Weah has a very tasking future ahead of him in Liberia, but he can leverage on the popular goodwill to deliver remarkable goals like he once did on the pitch, and leave a legacy that will continue to inspire not just African footballers but young professionals with genuine interest in politics.


Many of them might not understand the rubrics of politics, but they possess an essential quality of leadership without which Africa has remained the way it is – compassion. The nature of politics in Africa and indeed in other parts of the world will always make it difficult for those without political history to have an easy ride, but since career politicians have failed to live up to expectations, this might be the time for them to persuade the people and ride on the wave of people like George Weah who have beaten the odds.

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