By Richard Avornyotse, GNA Sports Desk
Accra, Feb. 1 GNA - After a long absence, Ghana will once again be represented at the African cadet soccer show which is slated for the Gambia in May.
The qualification has given hope to soccer crazy Ghanaians who feel the resurgence of the Starlets would mark the beginning of a new era in Ghana football, where trophies, medal and silverwares will lace the shelves of the Ghana Football Association.
But while we nurse such positive dreams and hopes, due attention and recognition must be given to those behind the success story of the new crop of Starlets whose level of discipline, commitment, hard work and patriotism has provided the basis of our great expectation. David Duncan may be the principal character in the technical team but he professes with a strong tonic of humility that the achievements of the team are the result of the collective responsibility of "the Big Six."
As head coach, Duncan believes that his efforts are complemented by the contributions of every member of the six man team, which performs multifarious functions that congregate into the total output of the team.
In this regard, Duncan attributes the success of the team to the overall contributions of himself, Bright Obeng, his assistant, Abukari Damba, goalkeeper's trainer, Dr. Andrew Ayim, team doctor, Richard Asare, the team manager and Laud Moses Sewornu, the masseur.
Nosing around "the Big Six," it was evident that they had a common sense of purpose, which was manifested in the qualification of the team to the African Championship.
Every member of the team believes he must contribute his optimum that will have a positive impact on the performance of the team. Tactics remains the prerogative of coaches Duncan and Obeng but they believe that the fitness and conditioning of the players will dictate the type of tactical formation to adopt in a match and are therefore ever prepared to accommodate the entire technical team during discussions. At training, every member of the team remains very attentive and focused, revealing the zeal to work and work well in unity of purpose. Consultation is often in progress as players' health and physical conditioning are given equal attention as their tactical preparedness.
A former international goalkeeper, coach Damba grills the goalkeepers in different types of situations including close range shots, curling shots, ground shots and flicks, aerial balls and pull outs and many other tricky situations.
"As a former national goalkeeper, I am compelled to impart my knowledge to the goalkeepers and prepare them for any kind of situation so that they will play above themselves and ensure that the overall aspirations of the team are achieved."
Coach Damba believes the strength of a team must be anchored on a solid defence, which includes good form by the goalkeeper. Dr Ayim keeps a close watch on the boys and questions them often about their state of health.
He treats injuries and sicknesses and provides medical counselling to the team so that injuries are not hidden or feigned, while the boys desist from attitudes and practices, which would affect their health and conditioning.
Richard Ayim sometimes combines pastorial work with his duties as team manager. He is always on the run to secure kits and other logistics for the team and sometimes acquires some of the items through his own means and initiative.
"I tell my friends to help the team and they often agree and supply us a few of our needs," he said.
The team manager enjoys his work very much and coach Duncan agrees he is the most enthusiastic member of "the big six." Laud Moses ensures that players who receive knocks during matches regain fitness within a short period so that they can continue with the game.
Thus he gets to a fallen player as soon as the referee signals and massages the pain out of the player with alacrity. The Starlets are receiving the raves and the kudos, but it is important that we recognise those whose work has shaped the boys into a formidable and winsome team. Praise to "the big six!"