Long wait, singing and old faces herald Hearts new era
Accra, Nov 27, GNA - Members of the Accra Hearts of Oak fraternity having endured an 11 year wait for their third quadrennial Congress, which finally came off on Saturday, heralded in a new era for the Club with virtually the same old faces to run the club for the next four years. In a congress that lasted almost 12 hours, the tired delegates who had endured hours of waiting to have the chance to elect a new Board to run the club, finally broke into choruses virtually turning the auditorium into a church service whilst they waited for representatives from the Electoral Commission to come out with the results of the elections for the Board members.
However before the election of the 14 new Board members out of a total list of 18 prospective candidates, the Council of Patrons in line with the constitution of the Club nominated five persons made up of Professor Kofi Kumado, Commodore Mensah, Togbui Afede V, Hannah Tetteh-Kpodah and Kofi Bruce representing the interest of the old payers unto the 25 member board.
In addition to the five nominated by the Council of Patrons, a further five representing the interest of the five regional bodies namely Mr Ernest Thompson (Accra) Cosmos Ayimiriga (Northern) Seth Fifi Aboagye (Volta/Eastern), I.A. Issaka (Brong Ahafo/Asahnti) and Ben Nartey (Central/Western).
At the end of the elections, the 14 elected were Mr Thomas Okine, current CEO of the Club, Mr Francis McCarthy, the Vice-Chairman, Steven Akwetey, present Team Manager, Clement Dodoo, Isaac Tetteh, Frank Nelson Nwokolo and Ato Orleans Lindsey all members of the present management team.
The rest are Alhaji (Hearts) Sulemana Briamah, Steve Mawuyega and Harry Zakkour all members of the past Board, Nortey Omaboe, son of Nana Wereko Ampem II, President of the Council of Patrons, Abdulai Mahama, J.Y Appiah and Alhaji Fowaz Zowk completing the list of 24.
The last slot on the 25 member Board, will go to the next position of the CEO to be elected by the Board of Directors after their meeting to select the new Chairman.
The new Board takes over the running of the club from the Ato Ahwoi Board which has been running the affairs of the club since the last Congress held on October 1, 1994 ratified their appointment in line with the club's new constitution following its incorporation in line with a directive by the then Ministry of Youth and Sports in 1993 that mandated all clubs in the Premier League to be incorporated.
Giving an overview of events that had taken place during the 11 years under review, Mr Ato Ahwoi the outgoing Board Chairman said they took over when the Club's image was seriously bruised and was in a financial ruin.
He said the club had gone on for some time without any major trophy and there was no vision to challenge the dominance of Kumasi Asante Kotoko and emerging Ashanti Goldfields Football Club now Ashgold. "Even though when we took over, our core vision was football, we had complementary vision to organise and operate an efficient, well-resourced and success-oriented club along the lines of what pertains in Europe.
"It was obvious that with the resolve of our objective to be translated into reality, it become imperative for the club to move away from its dysfunctional perception of just assembling 11 players to building the institutional capacity of the club for it to compete favourably with all the clubs including those on the continent." Mr Ahwoi said success was not far off when in 1994 and 1996, Hearts won the FA Knockout trophies under the leadership of Mr Ernest Bediako and the Interim Management Committee led by Commodore Mensah respectively.
"Having studied the terrain and the necessary structures put in place, Commodore Mensah, then the Acting Managing Director in 1997 won the league trophy after a seven year' break.
"Harry Zakkour then followed, winning four consecutive league championships in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 before leaving the baton for Thomas Okine to continue by annexing the league for the record sixth time on the trot."
On the continent, Mr Ahwoi said the Club systematically built on its performance in the 1994 Africa Cup Winner Cup campaign, which culminated in the annexing of the 2000 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League Trophy by beating Esperance of Tunisia to become the first club from Ghana to win the trophy.
He said in the course of winning the Champions League trophy, Emmanuel Osei Kuffour emerged the top scorer in the competition which also guaranteed Hearts place in the World Club Championship and also the right to play host to the CAF Super Cup against Zamalek which the club won 2-0.
"In 2005 our great club beat arch rivals Kumasi Asante Kotoko in the finals of the maiden edition of the CAF Confederations Cup making Hearts the only club to have won all the three trophies of CAF - the Champions League, Confederations Cup and Super Cup."
He said that in 2000 and 2001 the Club attained global status after it was rated 83rd out of the top 100 clubs in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics and came 11th in the overall CAF 100 rankings.
"To add spice to the occasion, our then coach, Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio was also voted CAF Coach of the year whilst Ishmael Addo was nominated among the three short listed players for CAF Most Promising Player award"
Mr Ato Ahwoi said even though the club chalked major successes during the period under review, it also went through some purple patches as the club is currently in debt to the tune of about 750,316 dollars, which is a major source of worry to all.
He also said the Club looks back with sorrow after the death of 126 supporters, which included 110 supporters of the club during the 2001 May 9 tragedy at the Accra Sports Stadium. "This incident was so devastating that we are all yet to recover fully from it". Mr Ahwoi also admitted that the Club has not been at the forefront in its marketing strategies and asked the incoming board to take steps to improve on that aspect.
He asked that the Pobiman project, specifically the stadium when completed should be named after either Shamo Quaye since it was part of his transfer fee that provided the initial seed capital for the project or Mr Frank Sawyer who also made it possible for club to acquire the land.