The other day when I suggested that you need to be a real sports addict to be a good manager of the vocation, especially football, the message appeared unclear to the “latter day saints” in our midst. They know themselves. Currently, out of the highly competitive numerous global sports disciplines, football has attracted so much money that in this dear country of ours, commercial interest is fast taking over the development of the real ingredients, I mean the practitioners of the sport.
I recall with nostalgia the nation’s action packed football seasons of the 70s and 80s with men like Lt Col Brew Graves, Major George Lamptey, Major D.O Asiamah, Justice Aboagye, Sam Okyere, S.K.Mainoo, Zac Bentum and Co in charge of affairs at the national level.
I also recount with fond memories the buoyant club administration at the time with visionaries like Tommy Thompson, Simms Mensah, Yaw Bawuah and Co whose brilliant works were later beautifully followed by Harry Zakkour, Herbert Mensah, Nana Butler and Co.
It was Tommy Thompson who gave official recognition to club supporters groups and formed the famous Hearts of Oak Chapters.
Simms Mensah, always eager to learn from his peers, also quickly formed the Asante Kotoko Circles.
These two supporters’ groups were well organised and succeeded in mobilising fans in huge numbers to fill the stands to capacity whenever they met in Kumasi or Accra.
Their fixtures were so attractive that Nana Abrah Appiah’s PLB dubbed it “The Super Clash”. Too bad that the biggest sports disaster in Ghana’s sports history was recorded during one of these exciting fixtures in Accra on May 9 2001 when 126 fans tragically died during a stampede at the end of the game won by Hearts.
Those were the glorious days of the Famous Hearts Chapter O at Nima and Kotoko’s Powerful Circle 8 from Accra New Town. What a far cry from those days to the current situation where even a free gate for a Hearts-Kotoko match in Accra can only attract a sparse crowd. The reasons for this are many. There are not many exciting names to attract fans.
Who is to take the blame. Do the players lack the skills and intellect to learn from the coaches or the coaches themselves lack the skills and knowhow to spot and mould talents. Your guess is as good as mine but as the debates go on, I would like to suggest that we take a major decision to improve upon our playing fields, many of which don’t deserve to be a premier league venue. Which brings me to the construction of the numerous Astro Turf pitches around the country. I believe the pitches are meant to promote football from the grassroots which is fine but reports say a large number of the facilities are not being used. Too expensive to be opened to the general public, that’s what I hear.
My information is most of them are just decorations.at the moment. What a shame.
This reminds me of the story told that President Nkrumah in his hey days signed a fairly fat cheque for an old lady party faithful in appreciation of her hard work. The old lady treasured the gesture so much that instead of cashing the cheque, she put it in a frame like a picture and hung it in her living room for posterity.
Please let’s put the Astro turfs to good use by providing the appropriate playing boots. The turfs provide the right place to begin colts football. Regional or district colts’ festivals could be arranged to start grooming talented future stars.
This should be a bigger concern for the Ghana Football Association rather than the ongoing stampede to pick the next GFA President. Anyway hints from the grapevine indicate Kurt Okraku seems to me like one who has realised his mistakes and most likely to do better if given another chance.
I don’t know much about the GFA constitution but I believe if Kurt gets well-meaning executive members like Kwasi Appiah, Alhaji Grunsah and Co, he could be guided to steer our football back into the successes we are accustomed to.
The upcoming GFA elections must not be a do or die affair that would disrupt the upcoming busy sports
atmosphere starting with the World athletics championships in Hungary. The Black Stars also have an important Afcon qualifying match against Madagascar on September 7 and this reminds me of the suggestion I made some time ago concerning the 60th anniversary of the Black Stars first Afcon triumph in 1963.
Such anniversaries are worth celebrating especially when we are lucky to have a few of those who carved that historic achievement still alive. It was a real momentous occasion and I was right in the thick crowd at the stadium that day.
Let me recapture a description of the Black Stars 3-0 win against Sudan on 1st December 1963 as reported by Sports Director Ohene Djan in his book “The Short History of Soccer in Ghana”, published in 1964.
Here we go.
“It was a final worthy of the name and worthy of the occasion. It was a match in which the best players from each nation were on parade. The atmosphere was tense and determination appeared
visibly written on the faces of the 22 soccer ambassadors of both Ghana and Sudan. The fortunes of the game remained oscillating throughout the first half with neither side scoring a goal.
In the second half the Ghanaians overcame the tension of the first half misses and relaxed to play their natural game. Both attack and defence of the Black Stars combined effectively to pile on the pressure and for some time goalkeeper Sabit Doudoo of Sudan was the real obstacle between Ghana and the coveted championship trophy.
The Sudanese under pressure conceded a corner and subsequently a penalty which skipper Aggrey Fynn cleverly shot into the net for Ghana’s opening goal.
On two occasions match winner Edward Acquah hit the back of the net to earn for Ghana a 3-0 victory by which she meritoriously ascended the championship trophy of Africa.”
The 1963 full squad was Aggrey Fynn(captain), Dodoo Ankrah, Franklin Crentsil, Oblitey Owens, Addo Odametey, Ben Acheampong, Kwame Adarkwa, Ofei Dodoo, Edward Acquah, Mohammed Salisu, Kofi Pare, Attah Kwame, E.S Degraft, Agyemang Gyau, Joe Aikins, Leonard Acquah, Wilberforce Mfum, Anum Okai, Osei Kofi, Ben Kusi.
Out of this squad the few still alive like Kofi Pare, Wilberforce Mfum, Osei Kofi and Leonard Acquah must be invited to celebrate with the current Black Stars in their upcoming Afcon qualifier in Accra.
Let’s learn to honour our past heroes.
Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.