Various development dialogues have centred solely on the impact of business in determining the state of economies but football, according to the Vice President of the Ghana Football Association, Fred Pappoe is a vehicle which can greatly transform an emerging economy.
The game was long been seen as a hobby but the commercial input it drives is now forced a rethink as football is been given unparallel importance by the people who set the development agenda of countries.
Delivering a speech at the World Bank organised Development Dialogue Series in Accra, Ghana's capital on Tuesday, the FA Vice President said aside the thrill the games comes with, it brings peace and development to various communities.
“Football represents a huge potential is bridging the poverty gap. To put, football recognises the potential of individuals and helps them build careers out of it and later into brands.
“Looking at our (Ghana) case, we have about 5,000 registered players plying their trade in the country and in the various league systems. Clearly, you can notice the impact the game represents. It's a means of employment and people are gaining income from it,” Fred Pappoe said.
Though scores of youth have been caught up in bad social vices that has seen them end up on the streets, Fred Pappoe believes the sport has done well to keep a greater chunk of deprived people from the streets.
“It (football) takes people off bad social vices that threaten communities and fastens peaces to the society.
“It resolves tissues and brings ourselves together and it's an important rallying point. Football addresses pertinent social, cultural and political issues.
“I think Football with its iconic stars could be used to promote topical social issues without any cost. It can used to fight against child education.
“Let's use football to fight these challenges that we are faced with,” the calm looking FA Vice President said.
Despite football's driving force, the game itself is faced with some problems as players are exploited by agents, a fact Fred Pappoe admits would need to be addressed through the education of players.
“Our game is faced with the exploitation of players because of the limited education some players might have received. Some have received any form of education and it's a problem.
“There's the need to create a structure to protect players from exploitation. Players would have to take up education and clubs, administrators would need to help in this direction.”
Before rounding up his insightful lecture at the British Council Hall which also had a huge presence - Alhassan Andani, Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, Kofi Boateng-Agyen of the World Bank, Ben Malor – Communications Expert at the UN and Elizabeth Ohene, a Minister of State, Dr Bella Bello Bitugu, - Fred Pappoe delivered a challenge to both government and its development partners to integrate football in the national agenda.
“Football creates employment for people and broadens the knowledge of people in the areas of dietary and training. It provides training for personnel and that improves and plays a critical role in the nation's development agenda.
“Let's deepen the integration of football into the national agenda. I hope government and its development partners would recognise the potential of the game,” the Vice President of the Ghana Football Association concluded.
The World Bank Development Dialogue series which started in February 2006, is aimed at promoting vibrant policy discourse on the country's development agenda to engage stakeholders in the country's economic policies.