The Ghana Premier League: Lost Love for a Lost League --Terrence Wood
Thanks to our Independence Day celebration, March has been touted as Ghana Month. As expected, the fourth Estate of the Realm has played its part in hyping virtually everything Ghanaian. As such, terms like "Wear Ghana", "Eat Ghana", "See Ghana", have suddenly sufficed. With recent happenings in the banking sector (Uni Bank, A.D.B, Bank of Ghana et al), not forgetting the brouhaha surrounding the Ghana-US Military Cooperation agreement (coincidentally in the same month), questions have been raised on the motive behind the initiative. Is it just a publicity stunt? Or an allure to instill a sense of patriotism amongst Ghanaians? Irrespective of your perspective, one thing is certain; the awareness generated by the creative arts industry via our music, fashion and art has been immense and awe-inspiring.
Wistfully, same praise cannot be ascribed to our football league system. An industry with the perpetual capacity to unify a nation, create employment and provide entertainment for its citizenry.
Enter any barbering shop, tune in to any radio station or join any social media platform and one thing is certain; Football discourses among Ghanaians are mostly centered around the Top 5 European Leagues (Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Premier League, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga) at the expense of our local league. Per rules and regulations governing the beautiful game, FIFA has given the GFA carte blanche to oversee and manage football in the country (a mandate i still find absurd). Plagued with injunctions, poor officiating, perpetual player exodus (as a result of the poor salaries paid players) and corruption allegations, Ghana’s premier club competition (GPL) has lost its allure and appeal it once possessed in the 90’s and early 2000’s. The remarkable achievements by the Egyptian, Moroccan and quite recently South African clubs is simply telling us that, the quality of your league is directly related to your performances in continental cup competitions. On the other hand, no Ghanaian club has made an impact in either the CAF Champions League or Confederations Cup since 2004/05 season; an embarrassing but unsurprising piece of information. From low turnouts to games stemming from the underwhelming quality of football on display and dodgy officiating, Clubs have resorted to renting out their pitches for non-footballing activities. For instance, Elmina Sharks fixture with Berekum Chelsea scheduled to take place on 28th March, 2018 had been postponed because the Golden City Park has been rented by the church of Pentecost for an Easter Convention. In the midst of all this drama, lies a ridiculously incessant cry for sponsorship. But will a profit seeking entity invest its resources in a near defunct league? No Siree!!
The world is considered a global village, thus people naturally support quality irrespective of its source or origin.
In its current state, the chutzpa of Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, sanctity of Rev Dr. Mensah Otabil’s teachings and wit of Lawyer Ace Ankomah wouldn’t be enough to reignite our lost passion. However, ‘Grind Day’ artiste Kwasi Arthur might have indirectly handed the local league a lifeline by occasionally sporting the Accra Hearts of Oak Jersey.
Over to you President Kwasi Nyantakyi. Happy Easter !!!