Cassell Kouh Reinvents Liberian Soccer -From Top Flight Owner, Soccer Mogul Becomes Youth Developer

MONROVIA: The name Cassell Kuoh might mean many things to different people in Liberia and probably around the globe, but for the multitude of soccer loving Liberians, Kuoh and soccer are like six-and-seven – and his recent return to Liberia could be the spark that just might revolutionize youth soccer development in Africa’s oldest republic that boasts of having the only Ballon d’Or winner yet has never qualified for a World Cup derby. Well, that sad story could be about to change, if one were to take at face value the words of Kuoh Foundation and Academy Head Coach Matthew Julutweh.

The former winning coach of Kuoh’s disbanded Division One FC Fassell who now heads the coaching department of Kuoh Foundation and Academy sincerely believes that his boss Cassell has made the best decision in the interest of the country and soccer to concentrate of youth soccer development.

According to Head Coach Julutweh who has under his charge 70 thirteen-year-olds, the Kuoh Foundation and Academy is here to stay and is a long-term project.

“Kuoh Foundation and Academy was established October 16, 2023. This is long term project. We intend to develop the children so we can take them to Europe through a marketing project. The Academy is all about both academic and soccer. We have our students in schools. The top five students with highest grade points each walk away with US$150 every semester. So, this is not all about football. We encourage our kids to do better in their education.

“Cassell has paid the school fees of 95% of the kids in the Academy. We are working tirelessly to increase their development process on a daily basis.  We are going to develop youth soccer through the academy so Liberia can have future players for our national team.

“The next phase of our foundation project is to establish a physical structure to accommodate the kids for their learning and sports activities, where the kids can live together, learn together and play together.

“We are fighting to be the number one academy in this country. We are currently training our kids on a daily basis at the Ocean Drive facility opposite the Invincible Park. Once you come from school, from 2:30 to 3:00pm you come to the training ground and we start by 4:00pm,” Coach Julutweh informed this paper.

The Academy comprises most kids ranging from 10-15 years, where 70 of them are currently enrolled in the program.

“By the 15th of January, we will have done all the legal paper works to sign with the parents of the kids. Through this means, the kids will legally be under our care and protection to further their career in education and soccer,” Julutweh continued.

Explaining further, he the most interesting aspect of the kids under this care is that none is registered in any of the Liberia Football Association leagues.

“We are developing our kids from the slums, the streets, their homes, and we are taking them under our care to give them a standardized training. There is no segregation. Even kids from well-to-do families who join our program assimilate with their colleagues from less-privileged background; and the atmosphere is balanced, cordial and respectful,” he said.

Ably assisting Head Coach Julutweh are his Deputy Coach Emmanuel Sulu; Physical Trainer Victor Kandakai; Administrative Manager Claudia Andrew Holder; Kitman 1 Thomas Vawo; and Kitman 2 James Zor.

The fortitude and dexterity of Kuoh Academy youngster became evident on the eve of New Year when they played a grueling match against a third division youth team, in which they surprisingly outclassed the visitors.

“When we threw them the challenge, they said they were coming with their academy players, but when they instead brought their Division 3 team. We never wanted for them to go back. So, we used our team and flogged them 10-2.

“We have changed the narrative from top flight football to grassroots soccer development. Those kids that are under our wing are not recycled players. They are all rookies,” Coach Julutweh said as he beamed with pride.

As coach Julutweh rounded up his post-match interview, the Foundation President Cassell Kuoh himself strode unassumingly onto the pitch. Immediately, the noisy players became transfixed as they all stood erect, beaming with heartfelt smiles, clapping, as they welcomed onto the pitch the man who is about to revolutionize youth soccer.

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