Parliament today hailed Ghana's Black Stars, the Senior National Football Team, when they visited the House on their return home after a sterling performance at the on-going FIFA world Cup Tournament in Germany.
Mr Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes, the Speaker said: "It is a matter of great joy that we are hosting this great national team and their able officials in the Chamber today. Distinguished Gallant fighters our National Team, it is my singular honour to welcome you all to the august House.
".... Black Stars our gallant heroes, you showed your mettle, displayed such a high standard of skill and performance. You have indeed, held high the flag of Ghana." Despite their initial loss to Italy, the Black Stars went on to beat the Czechs, ranked second, and the United States of America ranked fifth by FIFA, but lost to defending champions Brazil at the second round of the tournament.
Mr Sekyi-Hughes acknowledged the exploits of such big names in football like the late Baba Yara and Aggrey Fynn and living stars, Edward Acquah, Rev. Osei Kofi, Mohammed Polo, Opoku Nti, Opoku Afriyie, Abedi Pele and Tony Yeboah, but however noted that little did the world know that Ghana could match such soccer giants as Italy, the Czech Republic, the United States of America and Brazil, who were five times world champions.
He encouraged the Stars to be emboldened by the achievement chalked to strive to annex the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2008 trophy and also go further to win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister for Education, Science and Sports, who had earlier made a statement on the Stars' visit to the House, said "no doubt the biggest achievement in sports in Ghana in the living memory is the participation and excellent performance of the Black Stars at the 2006 World Cup in Germany."
He said the team had already made history by qualifying for the first time since 1962 when Ghana participated in the qualifying series. He observed that through the Black Stars, Ghana had demonstrated to the world that "we are capable of achieving whatever we resolve to accomplish."
"The Stars have shown that with unity, dedication and commitment, this nation, with abundant resource, can achieve the ultimate goal of development and peace."
The Sports Minister praised the effort of the President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, who on behalf of the nation assured the Stars of the nation's support with prayers and resources to enable them face the world and distinguish themselves.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah said by their feat, the Stars had dramatically promoted and marketed Ghana and opened the country to tourists and investors, adding: "Mr Speaker, if the international community is excited about Ghana, the euphoria in Ghana and across Africa has been unprecedented. I can state that the nation's spirit is at a very exciting level.
He also paid appreciation to the sponsors of the team and observed that the nation could collectively build on the success chalked by the Stars and make the nation great and strong.
The Majority Leader, Mr Felix Owusu-Agyepong, said even though the Stars were eliminated possibly because of a conspiracy, the Stars were the toast of the world and their performance exuded a sense of nationalism among Ghanaians.
"The Stars showed us that success, in any field of endeavour can only be achieved through hard work," adding, "what the Black Stars are telling us is that with unity, discipline and sense of purpose and direction, we can surmount the myriad of economic, social and political challenges that face us as a nation."
He suggested that the current national team be maintained, with a few inclusions for consistency in international tournaments.
Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, (NDC-Ningo Prampram) and Deputy Minority Chief Whip, in his contribution noted the contribution of soccer administrators such as Nana Sam Butler, Alhaji Nurudeen Jawula, Mr Joshua Alabi and Mr Ade Coker, and former President Jerry John Rawlings who played various roles in nurturing the present crop of the Stars from the juvenile stages.
The Member who was formerly Minister for Youth and Sports, also praised the roles of Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo and the late Mr Edward Osei-Kwaku, all former Sports Ministers in the feat of the Stars, while colleague Parliamentarians shouted: "You Too, You Too."
Mr Mensah said the story of football whenever being told must be completely told to achieve the desire results and acknowledgement.
The Stars received standing ovation and cheers by the Members as the Speaker took turns in mentioning their names and their accompanying officials. The House later hosted them to a reception.