Too Soon, Too Late
There was the story of a man who threatened divorce. The woman went down on her knees and family members and friends intervened. Eventually, the disenchanted man gave in, and husband and wife shared a common marital bed again.
A few days into a reunited alliance, the wife, without warning, deserted camp and left a bewildered husband not only lonely but heavily humiliated.
The man regretted ever changing his mind. He was now the person at the receiving end and his male ego surely deflated.
Ghana has found itself in a similar unpleasant situation today. In February this year, we had a good opportunity to dispense with the services of Claude Le Roy, the Frenchman who was the coach of the Black Stars, for non-performance.
The coach was to win gold at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament hosted by Ghana and qualify the Black Stars for the 2010 World Cup to be hosted by South Africa.
“Host and Win” was the battle cry, and that spelt out in clear terms the working agenda for the coach.
We ended up with bronze, which does not matter, seriously speaking, in such competitions.
Gold and bronze are never the same. But confused about what SUCCESS is and what constitutes FAILURE to serious-minded people, we thought hosting a tournament and settling for bronze in a year when we were observing our 51st anniversary as an independent nation was an achievement.
Contrary to overwhelming public opinion, which heavily tilted against retaining the services of the Frenchman, a few but powerful people who hold the fate of football administration in the country, buoyed by the support of some people who still do not know the difference between freedom and slavery, decided otherwise.
Just as we are about to celebrate the act of serving more the interest of the Frenchman than that of the Black Stars, the man has abandoned us in total disgrace leaving us with a dented national pride.
Reasons for the coach’s decision have been described as ‘personal’, which is common in diplomatic circles.
Snippets of information filtering through the grapevine point to differences over new service conditions and technical matters. The man wants a better salary and complained about the absence of Sellas Tetteh, the Ghanaian former Assistant National Coach, and Renard Herve, the physical trainer.
If Le Roy is a world renowned coach (as some still ignorantly think he is), why should he worry about a black man who is his assistant being put on another assignment?
Is it an admission of the fact that Sellas Tetteh was the man who was doing the hatchet work, while he (the coach) took the glory?
Is he afraid of exposure as we saw during the Ghana 2008 tournament? Why should he worry about the departure of an expatriate physical trainer? Don’t they have separate agreements and different mandates?
Some of us are struggling hard to come to terms with the philosophy of those who constantly think we cannot register any success or progress without the white man.
When it comes to football coaches, I do not find the historical foundations upon which they base their reasoning.
In 1963, barely six years after our political independence, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the Founder of this nation, reasoned that we could not claim independence when others were going to do things for us.
He, therefore, encouraged the late Ohene Djan, the then administrator of sports in the country, to invite young Charles Kumi Gyamfi (C. K. Gyamfi, for short) to come down from Germany, where he had just completed a coaching course to prepare the Black Stars for the Africa Cup of Nations being hosted by the country.
If Nkrumah were to have a low esteem of Ghanaians or the black man, for that matter, and knowing him to be a leader who abhorred failures, he would conveniently have settled on a foreign coach, more so when Ghana was playing host.
Coach Gyamfi proved Dr Nkrumah and Ohene Djan right that what the white man could do the black man was equal and competent to the task, if not even more. Ghana won its first African Cup at that tournament.
In 1965, Coach C. K. Gyamfi again led the Black Stars to defend the trophy in far away Tunis. It was not until 13 years later, in 1978, that Ghana won the continental trophy again.
For those who do not know, the coach of that victorious Black Stars team was Osam-Duodu, a full-blooded Ghanaian!
In 1982, when Ghana had the honour of winning the Africa Cup again in Libya, the technical team comprised C. K. Gyamfi (Leader), Osam-Duodu and Isaac K. Afranie.Tell me, those drenched in inferiority complex, where is the case against local coaches?
There is always this loose argument that local coaches need to upgrade their technical skills in order to prove equal to the task.
Every profession requires constant upgrading, and coaching is not an exemption. What yardstick are they applying?
Who says only local coaches need refresher courses? Forty-five years ago, we won the continental trophy with a Ghanaian coach and we are talking about deficient technical skills today. Are we being fair to ourselves as human beings?
Twenty-six years ago, in 1982, we won the Africa Cup with a Ghanaian technical team so what are we saying today when, even with a Frenchman on home soil, we could only pat ourselves with worthless bronze?
The apologists should tell us what more they expect from our own coaches before according them the respect and dignity they deserve.
Another issue those who do not see their way clear without the torchlight of a white man is that local coaches cannot stamp their authority on the team.
How do they stamp their authority when their appointments are without contracts?
How do they exert authority when every member of the FA is a coach, team owner and player agent, seeking their selfish interests?
I challenge the powerful men in charge of the FA to hand over the Black Stars to a local coach, offering him just half of the 30,000 euros they were paying Le Roy every month; let him sign a performance contract so that he sacks himself when he fails; give him the free hand to pick his supporting staff; give him the freedom to select and dispense with the services of players and give him the funds to spend weeks in Europe scouting for players.
He will do more than just putting together already well-cooked players and claim glory for their success.
By now it should be obvious to us that most of these foreign coaches are mercenaries who lack commitment and are only interested in the fortunes they make. Are we surprised, therefore, that Le Roy got attracted to bigger salaries and applied for jobs in South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire?
What we should also realise is that the local coach will share in the glory of success as a national and not just for the fat bonus he will earn.
In the same way, he will suffer the gloom of failure as any other Ghanaian and he will carry a bigger burden for not being able to stem defeat, something no amount of money will wash away.
That is the difference.
Slavery and colonialism ended many years ago and we need to come out of our hopelessness and inferiority complex. We must cultivate the spirit of self-importance and national pride.
We should stop making mockery of our independence by making saviours out of dead white men.
In our self-pity mentality, we accept everything, including those that had been rejected in their home countries; people who could hardly be mentioned in their countries are given red-carpet treatment here because we lack self-confidence .
Yes, we are in a global village, but movement is not one directional. It seems we are so blinded by our own low self-esteem that we are not aware of this.
It is very disgraceful and embarrassing that it took Sepp Blatter, another white man who is the FIFA President, to tell us in the face that foreign coaches are doing more harm than good to the development of football on the continent.
Those so-called football experts, Blatter observed, are earning more than they deserve and their skills do not enhance the performance of the various national teams.
Since we respect Blatter so much and appreciate the good things he has done for African football, much against stiff opposition from his compatriots, are we going to honour him by respecting his views and changing for the better?
We in Ghana have been taught a bitter lesson by Claude Le Roy. Have we learnt it?
May I have the honour of applauding the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, once again for creating a path which we hope very soon others will follow?
We are tired of ‘Nana Dr (Prof Emeritus) so and so’. As Otumfuo observed, big titles do not make a good chief. Our traditional leaders should let their light shine and, title or no title, they will glitter in the eyes of their subjects. Otumfuo, thank you.