PRESIDENT JOHN Agyekum Kufuor has challenged the Black Stars, to go all out, and bring to the country, “the golden fleece” of soccer- the World Cup, reports Sheilla Sackey.
He assured the Stars that, the entire nation will rally behind them, emotionally, and spiritually, as they play to win the highly-coveted cup, in Germany.
The President expressed appreciation to all Ghanaians, especially the youth, for solidarising with the Stars, and urged them to cheer the national soccer team, all the way to victory.
As he unveiled the prestigious and highly sought-after FIFA trophy, at the Accra International Conference Centre yesterday, President Kufuor noted that the participation of Ghana in the fiesta, not only offers an investment and marketing opportunity of the country to the outside world, but also, allows the players to compete at the highest level of the game.
The outdooring ceremony which marks the kick-off of the unique FIFA World Cup trophy tour in June this year, in Germany, sponsored by Coca Cola, has been themed:
“A Time To Make Friends.”
Ghana is the starting point of a 28-nation tour, by the trophy, which will see 31 cities. Ghana is highly respected in Africa, as a soccer nation having won the African Cup of Nations trophy four times, a reason for the opportunity given it, to be the starting-point of the tour.
Ghana's qualification in the world tournament, President Kufuor noted, was greeted with both local and international excitement, because of the previous abortive attempts.
The role of soccer, he observed, has gone beyond providing entertainment for both players and spectators, he observed, adding that, soccer is big business, providing employment for thousands of people.
He said, “Perhaps, even more importantly, soccer is serving as a tool for peace-building, unity and globalisation, both nationally and internationally”. This is why government, he said, has invested so much effort in the advancement of soccer.
President Kufuor, subsequently, announced the appointment of Abedi Ayew Pele, Ghana's soccer legend, as his special representative on Ghana's World Cup Tournament Planning Committee.
The Minister of Education and Sports, Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo said, soccer knows no tribal or political barriers and that, since Africa has never won such a prestigious cup before, Ghana will make history in June, when it takes the cup. The Director, Equatorial Africa Territory, Philippe Ayivor Franchise, said, this year promises to be wonderful one for the country and predicted that, Ghana will for the first time, win the World Cup.
The division president, Coca-Cola Nigeria, and Equatorial Africa, Lawrence Drake, disclosed that, the partnership between FIFA and Coca-Cola, began in 1950, and was formalised in 1974.
On November 22, last year, he said, the two extended their partnership of 16 years, from 2007 to 2022.
This renewal, he pointed out, not only continues its long standing relationship with soccer's world governing body, but strong connection with soccer, at numerous levels, in more than 100 countries.
Mr. Drake reminded the Black Stars that, the African Continent is behind them, and so, they should go Germany, to conquer, and make it real.
Earlier, one of the nation's illustrious retired footballers, Mohammed Ahmed Polo won honours.
Polo, popularly known as the dribbling magician, was honoured for winning the “Breaking Down Barriers Award”, a soccer event, organised to unite the people of Dagbon, during their conflict.
President Kufuor, after lifting the 4,970 gramme 36 centimetre high diadem, in front of a large number of enthusiastic crowd, later autographed the Black Stars Goodwill Banner.