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24.07.2004 Sports News

Encountering Soccer In The Brong Ahafo Region

By Kwasi Amo-Mensah

Soccer had been in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana for decades, even years before the 1960s when Tano Bofoakwa was formed out of BA United . There have been more clubs other than BA United and Bofoakwa in the region and the 1980s witnessed Kintampo Yaara Stars, Berekum Hammers, Techiman Eleven Wonders in the top flight of the then second division soccer. Though they could not stand a test of time, some really helped in talent development in the region if one should cite the case of Justice Ampah who joined Afienya United after getting all the tutorials from Berekum Hammers. Prince Adu-Poku, Alex Kyeremanteng and Maxwell Konadu all had their nursury soccer tuition from Nkoranza Republican FC before making it big in the premiership.

On the youth level, not much has been seen of the colts clubs in the region. However, one can hardly overlook Twene Amafo Secondary/Technical for their exuberance in the Milo Soccer competion organised for schools and colleges after the exploits of Prince Adu-Poku and Richard Nartey in the competition in the early 90s.

Big names have come and gone in Brong Ahafo Regional soccer and one therefore finds it difficult choosing the all-time best of the region. I would be desperate to choose between Kwasi Owusu, former Black Stars skipper and the first African to score at the Olympic stadium in Munich and Dan Owusu, also former Ghana International . At the same time, I have a great deal of respect for Ben Kusi, the longest serving player of Bofoakwa so far. Like England`s Gary Linekar, Kusi had never been carded in all competitive matches. Suffering not even a yellow card in his carrier shows the level of discipline of this loyal Bofoakwa player.

I dont know why ex-BA skipper Stephen Asante retired so early, not long after joining Hearts of Oak. George Arthur, Opoku Sampane, Kwaku Fori, Awudu Adama, Ekow Badu, Eric Asamoah, Awudu Issaka, Nana Dartey, Alex Opoku etc really gave soccer in the region more steel years after the retirement of Ben Fokuo, Kwasi Owusu and Dan Owusu. Arthur, Sampane and Saarah joined Kotoko in 84. When it became clear that the region was going to loose repesentation in the premiership with the relegation of BA and Bofoakwa in 85, Holy Stars under coach Dan Owusu came from nowhere to take over the mantle to re-affirm the status of Brong Ahafo in the elite division.

Indeed, the rise and fall of Holy Stars has been a concerned to observers of the game. As if we were dreaming, they successfully beat Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak at the Techiman Ameyaw Park. The Kotoko team that suffered the defeat was a very potent side by all standard. With Saarah Mensah leading the attack, Isaac Ansah now Salifu Ansah in post, Adai Kyenkyenhene, Ralph Iddi, Haruna Yussif and Kwaku Fori in defence, Razark and Sam Ayipey in midfield , few predicted defeat for the porcupine warrios. It was a complete Kotoko side, the Kotoko we know but the Holy Stars defensive network built arround Emmanuel Armah thewarted all efforts by the Kotoko attacking line. Hearts were there with a total team but lost surprisingly . What a first team side did we expect from Hearts for the game other than the assembly of Joe Amoateng, Dan Nyanu, Freeman Turkson, Hesse Odampteng, Sam Yeboah , Kofi Abbrey, Nii Opoku Afriyie etc who despite their splendid display of skill could take no point from the game. Nobody is arguing with me anyway.

At the moment, the region boasts of three premiership sides with Berekum Arsenal being the latest to add up to BA United and Tano Bofoakwa. Holy Stars and Yeji Stars complete the list of clubs from the region that have so far tasted premiership. More are expected to be in the premiership if Techiman Brongkyempem Stars, Berekum Pro Sports, Kintampo United, Dormaa Aduana Stars among other clubs in the region get support worthy of pushing them to that level. As to when a continental trophy would come to the region, time will tell.

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