‘It’s Not Easy’ is the working title for a book I’m writing to tell the story of the grassroots Liberian football team, Millennium Stars. See this page for more details on the team.
Updates: I’ll be posting interesting items from interviews and research for the project below as I uncover them, to whet your appetite.
- 06/11/2015 Just about to complete the fully polished version of the document with my proposal to publishers. Fingers crossed!
- 27/10/2015 I’m thinking the full title of the book will be: It’s Not Easy: the Rise and Fall of Millennium Stars FC. Suitably grave for a subject of this importance.
- “Football is a simple enjoyment in a hard world.” I found this in a magazine produced around 2000 inspired by the Millennium Stars’ visit. But who said it?
- 13/8/2015 The very last part of the tour: “There was a Nike advert on TV the year before, featuring the Brazil team – Ronaldo, Denilson, Romario, Roberto Carlos et al – at an airport in full kit, kicking and dribbling footballs, curling them through passport control, up and down the queues of people, through the hand luggage scanner, across the tarmac and back through lines of trolleys and over the baggage carousel. At Heathrow, Vasco is carrying under his arm one of the pristine soccer balls the team has received, and Neil suggests to him that he should put it on the floor and begin playing. Vasco looks around him slowly and then says, “no.” Neil asks, “why not?” And Vasco replies, “Because this is not a field.”
- August 2015: Finished a 45,000-word section that will be the main part of the book! 110,000 words in total – about 40,000 still to go?
- April 2015: I’ve just reached the point where Millennium Stars play Celtic. Crucial match on the tour, and also in their own personal and professional development. I think I’ve passed 100,000 words, but every time I count I get a different total. I now estimate writing at least another 40,000 before I start on the editing process for draft 2.
- On April 6, Millennium Stars celebrated – if that’s the word – a double anniversary: the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace and 19 years since the start of a period of terrible bloodshed in the Liberian war. They also enjoyed playing football again as it was banned during the ebola epidemic to lower the risk of transmission.
- February 2015: I’ve written 63,000 words of my first draft. I estimate another 30,000+. The big question in the back of my mind is what will happen when I get to the second draft. I’m wondering how to make it as dramatic as possible, but still balance all the elements – journalistic, academic, autobiographical – so as to do justice to them all.
- It’s Not Easy – a 40-min documentary compiled from interviews I conducted with nine team members in 2013. It will stand as a ‘teaser’ for the book while I write it! Nice tribute here from Twitter:
— TopSpot (@TopSpot1) July 3, 2014
- Nusee Cooper speaks about how playing football made the team feel at home, wherever they were, or whatever the circumstances.
- Wayne Rooney wouldn’t settle for US$100 a month. Teku Urey Nahn is playing in the African Champions League but gets that much. Or little.
- Liberia has a great untapped resource in its football players, but opportunities for young players are small, as Millennium Stars player and organiser Christian Neh explains.
- After 12 days in Liberia in December, I’ve got more than 12 hours of filmed interviews with Millennium Stars players who took part in the tour to the UK in 1999. 2014 marks 15 years since that date.
- “The game is about many things, but it’s very much about artists and art,” said Sir Bobby Robson in an interview with The Times in 1996. I have been researching George Weah’s career and came across an article comparing Weah, Alan Shearer and the Brazilian Ronaldo. Obviously, Shearer was the best…
- Doing research on Liberian footballers and have read that former Arsenal player Christopher Wreh once outran a lion on a gameshow. Does anyone know if this is true and if there are any other details?
- Here’s an interview on Radio Merseyside from September 16, 1999:
- I’ve been writing up an interview I did with Nusee Cooper, the team’s goalie from 1999. I was intrigued that he unconsciously used almost exactly the same phrase that has been attributed to Bob Marley: “Football is a part of me.”
- It’s Not Easy – the title comes from the well-known Liberian phrase. This understatement has been in regular use during the last 20 years (and longer) when things in Liberia have definitely not been ‘easy’. Often pronounced as “It no’ easy-o”.