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13.10.2005 Sports News

Black Stars Praise of Glory

By Doe, James W
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It does not matter, everyone has the right to praise the Black Stars and any party can do that as well. It will not be proper for any person to claim its only one group of people or just the government is responsible for showering praises and blessings on the Black Stars.
What that will mean in the later is, as if one will want to say that Ghanaians should wait for a day to be fixed for jubilation otherwise, no one should jubilate about the success.
Any praises, jubilation on the streets and congratulatory messages from any quarter; be it from parliament, organisations, political parties etc., is just a true reflection of the warm heartedness of the Ghanaian.
Such that in times of need and in joy we stick together as a people notwithstanding our political affiliation. Hence, the activities, messages and reports after the victory news of the Black Stars over Cape Verde is just a sponteneous reaction of joy by all well-meaning Ghanaians from all walks of life.
It should not be the purview of government to design how and who should congratulate the Stars. Because when it comes to support for the team; morally, in cash and in kind, the government alone can not do it.
Togo celebrated their victory and qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2006 by a national holiday thatis fair enough.
The keyword though is, it should not be chaotic. It is just nice to see how well the celebrations have been been so far. Also in the regions.
Therefore the private sector; companies and individuals have a part to play and are those who will bare it, as well as the taxpayer. As you can see from the way all are "dishing out" cash in support of the team. It is the shape of things to come.
Lets remember that it is just the beginning, the Black Stars have not even won the World Cup yet. When that is finally achieved in the summer of 2006, it will be a grand prelude to, and a prize for our 50th Anniversary celebration when we lift the World Cup. We are all going to hang in there for the Black Stars to reach the finals at worst.
So it was just fair that the President, NDC, Parliament, it could be civil society organisations, NGOs (National and International), faith-based organisations and youth organisations from the regions and all others can send their praises in any form to the Black Stars.
You as a reader can also do the same in your own small way. For the fact is that in the final analysis consciously or unconsciously we all have or will have a stake in their success. How about the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) and all others who have sent and will continue to send their congratulatory messages?
What we need to be careful of is not to overwhelm the boys since they still have a big role to play in uplifting the flag of Ghana in the days to come next year.
It will all rest on the same team spirit, respect for each other and being each others keeper, good training, good rest (sleep), no alcohol and nutritious but lean food all is keeping with good health. Hopefully, the technical team and coach know the rest.
Japan and Korea came this far to qualify for the last World Cup, because of the same tenets above. The Japan team stayed in a school setting together. They did have doctors, physiotherapists, dietitians and psychologists at their disposal.
We also have a lot to learn from the Brazilians, though I will say they are all a special brand of talented players, so it is not surprising that Pele and Zagallo are from Brazil.
The incentives and motivation packages could not be ruled out, some companies would have to be innovative enough to put their foot forward with visionary inputs for the team Black Stars. President Kufuor has already offered US$10,000 bonus to the players and another special package in the pipeline as a "thank you gift," we are told.
Something long term, a vision I am aware is what you can see from 10,000 metres meaning not all can see unless you get to that height, possibly from an aeroplane.
It is true that the win should not be politicised to say that, it is the NPP that made the Black Stars qualify as many are attempting to do. But we also know that under other parties the junior teams had brought major laurels to Ghana irrespective.
The major failure of the Black Stars as against the Black Starlets, and Black Meteors was the lack of "team spirit" or even if it were, there was some hidden pride from some of the senior players in the past. We all witnessed the wranglings by people like the Abede Peles, the Tony Yeboahs and the so-called professionals.
These gentlemen might have had their country at heart, but seemingly lost track of their real roots and beginnings. Obviously, I have witnessed what the West did to a lot of my colleagues so I could not blame these men for everything for they were young and exuberant so were not alone.
So our past failure could be summed-up as "dividing the ranks" of the national team for almost a decade and a half. The greed, selfishness and individuality of a few spelt the doom of the Black Stars until today.
They did forget that it was the Starlets that made them gain fame. Most of those who had to start their carriers poorly as colts players, then to the national league with no one knowing them but after they became professionals "they grew wings and horns."
You all remember when some of them had to return from Europe in their own jet planes or chartered planes (by courtesy of the foreign clubs) just a few days before most of the qualifying marches. How could they have contributed to the team work (or spirit) needed in a sport like football (soccer).
No one could talk because they many we those who claimed they had more money (undoubtedly) than most Ghanaians let alone the coaches whereas the worst sufferers were our local coaches.
The so-called professionals did not wish to take instructions to their coaches, in fact they became their own coaches. More often than not the captain of the team chose who he wishes to play with, normally a prerogative reserved for the technical team and infact the coach and his assistant.
The result was what we saw with the national team throughout our football history over the decades, especially a few years until the last FIFA World Cup 2002, in Japan and Korea.
Another major setback for the Black Stars was the logistics, some governments, companies and individuals renegade on all pledges (financial and otherwise) of support. These were not to be held accountable or liable for any damages on breach of pledge or contract and all that was suffered by national football and the poor players.
Hopefully, not this time with Mr "when I promise I deliver" said, Hon Osafo Marfo. To the extent that those players who we well of from Europe in camp refused the meals they were being served and the like.
I reckon these lessons and all others have well been learnt and solutions have been found or continue to be addressed as time draws near for preparations for the big year, 2006 and 2007 (pitching in already for the independence celebrations).
Many of us saw how the Brits (England) lifted (winning) the "Ashes" in this year's cricket after so many years and celebrated in London at Trafalgar Square. We do not play cricket in Ghana but yes, that sort of celebration is what should be awaiting the Black Stars in 2006.
Today thing‚“ have changed the past is behind us. With a new breed of boys we are here. Recognition of past athletes and sports people inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame for the first time in Ghana. The great work of Mr Ohene Djan and best players of the first Ghanaian team the Republicans all noted. Those were the days of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
The country has also moved on since, with two major league tables and a larger number of teams in the national league today. We will need more standard stadiums in every regional capital.
Then comes into play my good friend Mr or Pan Ratomir Djukovic from Eastern Europe and specifically from the under-dog football nation, Serbia. I hope he understands some Russian, "zdravuitie" or zdravim (by Slavik speakers). It is how are you doing or how do you feel?
Who ever thought that foreign coaches could come from Serbia, if not from the big football nations in Western Europe. This gentleman deserves all the praises too. Infact the biggest congratulations goes to him. The situation brings into play the issue of foreign coaches as against Ghanaian coaches.
Dujkovic is firm and has proved time and again that he is here to deliver. I would rather plead with the Education and Sports Minister to back of from any interferance. Because I heard him say something very disastrous already if it is to be implemented. That is they were going to go round the whole world to bring in all the best players.
I am not sure what Dujkovic will say or thinks about this proposal, but it will only spell our doom. Since all who have followed Ghana football, for over four decades will agree or disagree with me, that the dichotomy between professionalism and nationalism (national football) are diametrically apart and a course for concern in the country.
I would say emphatically that any person who did not contribute in any way during the qualifiers should not have a place in the world cup team of the Black Stars for obvious reasons.
They can join the Black Stars after the world cup. In as much as I would like all hands on deck, I do seriously think every Ghanaian should by now know their strengths and weaknesses as to what role they can play for the success of our national team at the World Cup. As such should not attempt to go beyond their bounds.
I know a lot of players were invited in the past, but most of this professional or players outside obviously have their own motivation. They did not give preference to the nation but to their teams abroad. Those who came over had their own troubles. I do not blame them, that is their right to emigrate and survive thus it is where they earn their living.
If the professionals have the country at heart they can return and form their own professional team to train with the Black Stars and will be the contribution and sacrifice they can give their nation. But not to think that they will replace those who have helped us qualify. By this way, we will all be convinced that they have the country at heart.
It is not compulsory to do this though, but it will also prove their unity as professionals and dedication for the national good which many of them in the past had denied the country's national team.
Once again I will say I am sorry but the Minister of Education and Sports Hon Osafo Marfo will have to rely more on the coach, the technical team and of course, prayers instead of trying to waste resources going round the whole world on a "wild goose chase" looking for Ghanaian players who did not care before.
By the way if Ghana fails at the World Cup 2006 in Germany, they will quickly sneak back to wherever they came from. Most of these young men form outside are sometimes even unrealistic in their demands.
Many of these foreign based players had "polluted" the minds of the young ones in the past and are prone to do the same. To me the coach is paramount. He was bold to warn Michael Essien his Ghana place could be at risk after missing the friendly with Senegal at Brentford.
This is friendly but if he misses the competitive match against Uganda we will take some steps," said Dujkovic. In short he did not mind about his big money and new contract ('26million bid) with the British team Chelsea, when the Black Stars went to missing the friendly with Senegal at Brentford in the UK.
As such the only denominator was for any player including Essien to justify their inclusion in the team and this caution was across board to all the players. It is never whom you know as it used to be in the past.
This was what, many of the local coaches could not tell Abede Pele and Tony Yeboah because they shivered from the name; power and money those players wieldered and had respectively. It is not anybody's right to blame anyone at this time by the way, though the hard lessons have been learnt.
To me I will say that the current success of the Black Stars is; the "team spirit," the whole Ghanaian support with a reasonable cheer song (Black Stars Ose Ye) and above all the business-like coach in the person of Mr Ratomir Dujkovic, the technical team and a God fearing Education and Sports Minister Hon Osafo Marfo.
For the booming cheer song, we thank JoyFM for its selection and support for a good course as usual. As we congratulate ourselves we should be proud to be from the ECOWAS and infact bravo to our close neighbours of Ghana, sandwiched between Cote d'Ivoire (to the West) and Togo (to the East), all of whom have qualified. It does shows how the subregion is a real hot bed for soccer. Good on Angola and Tunisia.
To comrade Dujkovic I wish to say thank you in a few languages; "djakujem, djikui, cpaciba, arigato, obligado, merci, gracias, gracie, danke, akpe, oyi wala don, ye dawo ase, nagodey." Dujkovic all the way! Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage. ,

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