Name the Tamale Stadium after Tanko Nasamu

By The Statesman

The Accra Sports Stadium was named after one of Africa's most famous sports administrator, Ohene Djan, before the New Patriotic Party government razed it to the ground and built a brand new all sitter state-of-the-art sports stadium at the same site with the name retained.

I have no doubt that Baba Yara had been the greatest footballer of his time who for many years entertained football enthusiasts all over Ghana and at the Kumasi Jacksons Park in particular in the red colour of Asante Kotoko and also featured regularly in the number seven jersey of the Black Stars until he was incapacitated by an accident on the Ho-Accra road.

Baba Yara was affectionately referred to as the "king of wingers". I remember an occasion when he almost single handedly demolished Accra Hearts of Oak in a match at Koforidua, and Kofi Badu, a renowned sports writer at that time reported on the match with an opening sentence which read something like "if Asante Kotoko Football Club could change their name into Baba Yara Football Club many people would applaud them".

To name the Kumasi Sports Stadium after him was the greatest monument to his name. That name has also been retained for the new sports stadium the government has built at the same site after demolishing the old stadium.

It has been suggested that the new Sekondi Sports Stadium should also be named after Edward Acquah. He is indisputably the most prolific striker this country has ever produced. He played for Sekondi Eleven Wise and the Black Stars. It is a good suggestion and I believe nobody will go against it. While I wholeheartedly support this suggestion, I also wish to suggest that the Tamale Sports Stadium should be named after Tanko Nasamu.

This suggestion is based on the fact that Tanko Nasamu was easily the best football player of his generation that was produced from Tamale and indeed the northern part of Ghana.

He was the first football player to be invited to the Black Stars from that part of Ghana and featured in the annual football competition between Ghana and Nigeria in those days. I remember the day that Tanko Nasamu was first featured for the Black Stars against Nigeria, almost the whole of Tamale stayed glued to their radio boxes to listen to the commentary on the match.

From then on Tanko Nasamu became a football hero and a role model to many youngsters in Tamale. He played along side other Tamale local heroes such as Abukari Gariba, Bitinga, Adams, Braimah Ayew (Abedi Pele"s senior brother) and Amusa Gbadamoshie for Tamale Savannah Stars.

When the late Ohene Djan did not fulfil his promise to include a Tamale team in the national football league, most of these local heroes migrated to join the national league clubs in southern Ghana.

The exodus of football talents from Tamale particularly benefited the two giant clubs in the country - Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko. Tanko Nasamu became a key player for Accra Hearts of Oak while his close friend, Abukari Gariba played a major role in winning the continental clubs championship for Asante Kotoko. Tanko's junior brother, Osumanu Nasamu also had a brilliant spell at Kotoko while George Alhassan (Ga Mantse) and Amusah Gbadamoshie also joined hands with Tanko Nasamu at Accra Hearts of Oak.

When Tanko Nasamu's playing days were over, he returned to Tamale where he played a major role in the development of young football talent. He spent most of his mornings training children and coached senior players in the evenings. When Real Tamale United was formed, he became part and parcel of the coaching staff and played a major role in qualifying the team to the national football league at its first attempt.

Many footballers in those days started the game with rugs tied together in the form of a football. They played football for the love of the game. They entertained millions in their playing days without any financial rewards. Unlike professional footballers of today, they built no mansions out of football nor did they wear designer clothes and drove fanciful cars.

Indeed, some of them stared with rugs and ended up in rugs. When modern stadiums are named after such footballers, they do not honour just the individual names that they bear, but the entire generation that they represent; a generation that really sacrificed to make Ghana a football nation.

By Prof Wayo Seini

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