09.07.2003 Sports News

The burial stage of Ghana soccer

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A GNA feature by Caesar Abagali Tamale, July 8, GNA - At this stage of utter despair and disappointment in football in Ghana, it is right to reflect with a sense of sobriety and dedication, what is being done wrong and how the right thing should be done to reverse the trend. We probably needed this kind of exit from an attempt to qualify for the nation's cup final to be able to do something concrete about football and our sports in general. In an earlier article "The dying moments in Ghana football" and carried by GNA and other Media houses, it would be recalled that I made a very strong case for a drastic and radical restructuring of Ghana football administration. At this stage I would beg to lift a portion of the article as a reminder of what was said; "....... there seems to be chaos at the Ministry of Youth and Sports when the minister seems to take a different position from that of Ghana Football Association (GFA), in the appointment of a national coach, the result of which jeopardizes the chances of the National Teams, particularly the Black Stars, who are in dire need to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations and possibly the world cup, which eludes the country season after season in the midst of uncertainties....." In short, I call for nothing short of a revolutionary transformation of Ghana football administration. It should be added that this should not be limited to only football but the whole fabric of sports. But, as usual, recommendations like this go unheeded, resulting in the consequences we now face. This may be an opportune time, once more to restate the need for total restructuring of our football administration, which should be preceded by sober analysis, reflections and suggestions put together by major stakeholders of the game under the auspices of the President or Parliament to enable Ghana emerge with a defined path acceptable and known to all Ghanaians on the way forward for Ghana football. It is ridiculous and impossible to implement what others are suggesting out of disillusionment that Ghana scraps and opt out of all international engagements in football or the management of Youth and Sports be scraped as was suggested in some quarters. These together constitute emotional outbursts, which can only lead to very serious consequences for the nation both social and economic. The proponents of such outburst are pursuing an argument, which is not only dangerous but illogical. Probably, it would sound foolish to some of these people if one were to suggest that because the economy is not doing well, we should scrap the economy and all economic functions. But they don't realise the flaw of similar in nature regarding sports. We know of nations that have come from the top to the bottom but later, managed through rethinking to resurrect their game. Ghana can also make and even better. We must see the current problems as a call for greater search and the repackaging of our football administration and style of doing things. Ghana has everything that it takes to lift the world cup. What we lack is dedication to the course. We must also avoid unnecessary attachment of political differentia if we are achieve our national objectives. On the 6th of July, a very dramatic thing occurred to illustrate vividly to all Ghanaians that our football was dead and was only awaiting burial. Put in a group with Uganda and Rwanda, the Black Stars were found at the bottom failing to qualify for the forthcoming Cup of Nations in Tunisia. The defeat threw the whole nation into a state of melancholy, which we have witnessed for a very long time but which was clearly written in the horizon, commencing from the last tournament in Mali and the last youth tournament in Burkina Faso. In spite of the reality that had dawn on the nation we kept living in falsehood and believing in the impossible. Since it is now glaring to everybody that there is the need to do something and also that our football administration is a failure, the following suggestions would not too far-fetched; 1. The National coach should be given an immediate sack. 2. The Ghana Football Association (GFA) should be dissolved and put in its place an interim management Committee. 3. The Ministry of Youth and sports should assemble a team of experts and other stakeholders for the purpose of deliberating and coming out with measurable suggestions that can lay the foundation for a way forward. 4. We must begin to look for long term solutions within which to accommodate the short term ones. This means clearly that Ghana has to build a team from the scratch. Available in this country is a pool of potentials from which to draw any calibre of players. The example of Senegal should constantly be kept in view. Nations like Burkina Faso are currently where they are by dint of hard work and team building. Ghana must know by now that there are no short cuts in glory. However, the most significant thing to address now is the role the state should play in the development Ghana soccer. Since Ghana soccer has been consistently falling in standards any person with minimum knowledge of soccer financing would know that the value of sponsorship and individual players would also fall. That is why it is dangerous for the nation to allow its soccer to go down hill. The effect of this is to see a drastic reduction in the value of our players in the international market. It also prevents the nation from attracting quality sponsorship from rich organisations. This therefore, is what Ghana is going to experience until there is a reversal of the trend. In the light this argument, the state has no option than to play the role of a financier. I wish to conclude on this subject financing and restructuring of Ghana football that progress of football in Ghana must go hand in hand with government commitment to invest substantially in football. The suggestions being put forth may sound radical but they constitute the basic ingredients for the development of Ghana soccer.

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