13.06.2003 Sports News

Hail RTU on its 25 anniversary

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....will the team shine further? This year marks the 25the anniversary of the birth of the only Northern club in the premier league-Real Tamale United (RTU).

Twenty-five years of ceaseless struggle, determination, fortitude and remarkable achievement. These and many more sum up the life of this Tamale club, which has brought so much pride to Northern Ghana in the realm of football. The club itself is referred to as "the pride of the North" in all circles in the country.

For the people of Tamale, RTU represents a spiritual enthusiasm. There is no separation between what they see in RTU and their very being. To many in Tamale and elsewhere in Dagbon, Tamale Real United is synonymous with their tradition and normative life. A visit to the Kaladan Park or to Bolgatanga would clearly inform any visitor of the true dimension of the football club in the life of the people.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the club, one can only urge them to strike harder. It is, however, too easy to ask them to aspire further in the place of the formidable challenges that this implies. The achievements chalked so far were not very easy.

Many a mind would reason up and agree that RTU operates within a uniform situation. In the first place, the infrastructure on which the team is built is very daunting and can discourage many clubs in this country. The club has had to train on a gravel pitch even though they are expected to play many of their matches on grass pitches.

Financially, the club was given birth to in a community, which happens to be in one of the most deprived areas of the country. Therefore sources of funding have been a very big challenge. Thanks to WIENCO Ghana Limited, a limited liability company based in Accra with a branch in Tamale. Had it not been WIENCO the team wouldn't have chalked such successes. So far WIENCO has spent over two billion cedis on the up-keep of the club.

The team was formed through the able efforts of the late Colonel Robert Kunta Zumah, who encouraged all five teams at the time in the North to merge into two. Real Sportive and Northern United merged as Real Tamale United, which remained as the team's name and the other three teams came together in 1976.

Real Tamale United emerged as champions in the North and emerged winners in the middle league in 1977, which ushered them into the Premier League in 1978 and have ever since remained a very strong torn in the flesh of teams like Kotoko and Hearts of Oak. Players were basically students recruited from schools during the inter-schools and colleges festivals. No doubt some of the founding fathers were headmasters of some schools in the North.

Other brains like Alhaji Rahimu Gbadamosi,former Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, Alhaji Aliu Mahama (the current Vice President), Alhaji B.A Fuseini,former Northern Regional Minister, Alhassan Alolo, Alhaji Adam Progress, Jimo Ashiru, Alhaji M.N.D.Jawula former Chairman of the Ghana Football Association and Dr Baba Sampana to mention but a few, worked tirelessly to build the team.

These were people who though civil servants, used their meagre salaries to form the club and got it through the middle league and to the premier, making football in the North interesting.

Real Tamale United is the only club in the league that has to travel the longest distance to play most of their matches. This becomes even more compounded when mid-week matches are fixed without due regard to the plight of clubs like RTU.

In spite of all these difficulties, it is a marvel that it is RTU that produced the greatest living recognised football legend in Ghana -Abedi Ayew Pele. It has also produced the only player in Ghana to play in the league for ten years without any card from referees, in the person of Mohammed Choo, who was also a goal king for three consecutive years. What a feat! Many more national stars like Mohammed Gargo, Ntow Gyan, Anane Kobo also passed through the club.

The club has also produced the first graduate to play in the National Team in the person of Adam Farouk and the first and only player in Ghana to become a Member of Parliament, Honourable Abuga Pele. Abuga Pele is also the only football player who now holds a Masters Degree and in fact, he played for two years with RTU without attracting a card. To this end it is difficult to find appropriate words to describe these giants from the North but marvellous, great and wonderful are the mere words one could only find to suit the purpose. The club has also on several occasions either come close to winning the league or been among the first three on the league table.

For instance, the team placed second in 1978, its first year of entering the premier league, Management indicated that they were robbed. They were finalist in the FA Cup in 1981, second in the league in 1984 and 1999 and had also placed third three times. The club was also CAF representatives in 1998 and Gala Champions in 2000.

RTU has been a conduit through which soccer potentials in the three Northern Regions have found their way into the National Teams. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of this hardworking club all football loving fans, particularly those in the North, should lend their support to hail the management, playing bodies both present and past and the supporters and to say to them: "You have made Ghana proud in contributing immensely to the development of soccer in the country". But even as we shower praises on them, this is also the time to say that the sports authorities should go to their aid. The Kaladan Park or the Bolgatanga Sports Stadium where the club has adopted as its base, must be developed now!

All capable individuals who hail from the North should put their hands on deck and ensure that RTU places itself where it truly belongs in Ghana soccer. The club should embark on talents hunt to build a very formidable team.

All Ghanaians wish them well and hope that they would grow from strength to strength.

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