26.10.2004 Sports News

In search of a coach for the national team

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A GNA feature by Caesar Abagali

Tamale, Oct. 26, GNA - Ghana is a nation, which is yet to sort out its fundamentals of sports, particularly football. The nation has yet to come to grips with the complex problem of the technical expertise for the national team-the Black Stars. The question of who coaches the Black Stars has bedevilled this nation for a long period of time.

It has polarized and revolved itself around illogical, inconsequential and at times trivial positions and perceptions. To demonstrate how serious the problem is, is how within a short time of three and a half years, 2000 to 2004 Ghana has appointed not less than nine coaches for the national team. These include Fred Osam-Duodo, Jones Attuquayefio, Fred Osam Duodo, Milan Zivadinovic, E.K. Afranie, Bukhard Ziese Ralf Zumdick, Mariano Barreto and Sam Arday.

Again, some of these coaches abandoned the national team midstream and in very peculiar situations without any tangible reasons offered and in some other instances some have absconded with the nation's resources making the country look like a laughing stock.

This flux of coaching appointments does not make for consistency and planning while at the same time it demoralises the playing body, leading to negative results. No wonder Ghana is yet to step into and fell the "Scent" of the World Cup. Completely overtaken by latecomers, such as Senegal and Cameroon or even South Africa on the African continent we seem to be worse off than a century or two ago.

The perennial argument between recruiting a foreign or a local coach misses the point clearly and is even irrelevant. Local coaches have sometimes performed creditably and have also often been woeful. Foreign coaches have also followed the same pattern, performing well in some cases and dismally in others, but the cardinal principle should be for Ghana to have the foresight and magic wand to the "Promised land" without any interference, be he white or black.

Valid arguments can therefore be made against foreign as well as local coaches just as praises can be rallied for some local as well as foreign coaches. No consistent argument can therefore be made for any categorization in terms that are designed to functionally assign abilities or capacity to perform on the basis of foreign or local expertise.

Clearly it is a question of competence, discipline, management support and quality of players as well as the financial motivation available. The practice whereby local coaches are treated as insignificant and therefore given as low as 500 dollars a month while any calibre of coach recruited outside with a white skin is paid 10,000 dollars is the most ridiculous and abusive scandalization of our citizens and shows our lack of respect and recognition for your own abilities.

Once the criteria is established or a format is comprehensively determined based on conditions of competence, experience and achievements it should be applicable equally to any coach, whether an Eskimo, Indian, Ghanaian or Brazilian. The basis of any argument as far as coaching recruitment is concerned should be whether the person considered as the coach is competent or meets the set criteria laid down by the recruitment authority and not whether the person is a white or Ghanaian. The only grounds on which Ghana should be seeking external help is when none of the coaches in Ghana meet the required conditions as laid down by the football administrators.

As a start, Ghana should make an effort to develop a technical potential for the nation. Establishment of a training institution for all types of technical expertise for all sporting activities including football is long overdue. The Winneba Sports College and Training Institute, which offers some training to teachers in the area of sports, is neither well equipped nor sufficient to meet the nation's requirements. Two options are open:

(1) The first is either to equip the existing Winneba institution to upgrade its level and performance or,

(2) Establish one or two specialised, well-designed and appropriate institution in Ghana for the purpose.

This institute conceivably should be the core academy for training the manpower needs and aspects of sports in the country for all levels - from the districts up to the national.

However, it should be linked to other advanced institutions of learning in other parts of the world. This way the latest developments in world technical training in sports would be brought to bear on the institute and sports in Ghana.

In recent times, the nation has relented in giving local refresher courses through bilateral relations with advanced systems and from the country's own resources. This should be re-invigorated and expanded. Ghana may not have participated in any of the World Cups but it abounds with high calibre and recognised standard stars who have gained rich technical experience playing alongside the greats of this world and also have gained enormous experience under renowned coaches.

What is lacking and what constitutes a big handicap in our system is the inability to integrate these stars into the mainstream of Ghana football. If Ex-stars Germany and Holland can be given the tasks of handling their national teams and top clubs, why not give equal chances to the Ghanaian stars. The Ex-stars need motivation to impart their knowledge and experience to the up and coming footballers. The football administrators have to recognise their worth and appreciate their contribution to football as part of their past, present and future roles.

In all this, the factor of motivation, financial or otherwise is very necessary and urgent. In an earlier article, I titled "Financing Football in Ghana", I urged that a sports fund be established. The attempt by the Ministry to set up this fund has been woeful to say the least. A little bit of consultation with stakeholders and individuals like us who are interested in sports development would helped to set out the parameters well.

The acknowledgment of the main arguments of that suggestion would have impressed the undertaking. This notwithstanding, the attempt is in the right direction but the fund must be a very serious one that can be sustained and chartered along the lines of other major funds like the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund), Road Fund or the Common Fund. The issues of the Youth and Sports in the world are problematic as they are concerned with employment, urbanisation, crime and terrorism and should be serious business for the state. A fund to address this issue should therefore appeal itself to the minds and energies of those entrusted with state power.

Technical development of sports and therefore coaching stands to benefit immensely from such a fund. For the issue of training must be continuous, evolving and sustainable. It mustn't be a mass effort at one time without any futuristic planning.

The search for a coach in Ghana is therefore a process, which must engage the attention of all stakeholders and must be taken seriously. It is at the root of football development and administration in Ghana which we dare not do away with or it would be to our peril and the end to our dreams, since Ghana which used to be the flagship of the African continent cannot continue to be denied our frontal role of appearing at the World Cup at least this time round. Our clarion call should be "Now or never for the Black Stars" and Ghana must ensure we make an impact and we can do it God willing.

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