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FEATURE: The money craze in football

The other day when I suggested that you need to be a real sports addict to be a good manager of the vocation, especially football, the message appeared unclear to the ‘latter day saints’ in our midst. They know themselves.

Currently, out of the highly competitive numerous global sports diciplines, football has attracted so much money that in this dear country of ours, commercial interest is fast taking over the development of the real ingredients, I mean the practitioners of the sport.

I recall with nostalgia the nation’s action packed football seasons of the 70s and 80s with men like Lt Col Brew Graves, Major George Lamptey, Major D.O Asiamah, Justice Aboagye, Sam Okyere, S.K.Mainoo, Zac Bentum and co in charge of affairs at the national level.

I also recount with fond memories the buoyant club administration at the time with visionaries like Tommy Thompson, Simms Mensah, Yaw Bawuah and co whose brilliant works were later beautifully followed by Harry Zakkour, Herbert Mensah, Nana Brew Butler and co.

It was Tommy Thompson who gave official recognition to club supporters groups and formed the famous Hearts of Oak Chapters.

Simms Mensah,always eager to learn from his peers, also quickly formed the Asante Kotoko Circles.

These two supporters groups were well organised and succeeded in mobilising fans in huge numbers to fill the stands to capacity whenever they met in Kumasi or Accra. Their fixtures were so attractive that Nana Abrah Appiah’s PLB dubbed it ‘Super Clash.’

Too bad that the biggest sports disaster in Ghana’s sports history was recorded during
one of these exciting fixtures in Accra on May 9,01.w1 when 126 fans tragically died during a stampede at the end of the game won by Hearts.

Those were the glorious days of the famous Hearts Chapter O at Nima and Kotoko’s Powerful Circle 8 from Accra New Town.

What a far cry from those days to the current situation where even a free gate for a Hearts-Kotoko match in Accra can only attract a sparse crowd. The reasons for this are many..There are not many exciting names to attract fans.

Who is to take the blame? Do the players lack the skills and intellect to learn from the coaches or the coaches themselves lack the skills and knowhow to spot and mould talents?

Your guess is as good as mine but as the debates go on I would like to suggest that we take a major decision to improve upon our playing fields many of which don’t deserve to be a Premier League venue.

This brings us to the construction of the numerous astro turf pitches around the country. I believe the pitches are meant to promote football from the grassroots which is fine but reports say a large number of the facilities are not being used. Too expensive to be opened to the general public, that’s what the news says.

My information is most of them are just decorations at the moment. What a shame. This reminds me of the story told that President Nkrumah in his heydays signed a fairly fat cheque for an old lady party faithful in appreciation of her hard work. The old lady treasured the gesture so much that instead of cashing the cheque, she put it in a frame like a picture and hung it in her living room for posterity.

Please lets put the astro turfs to good use by providing the appropriate playing boots.The turfs provide the right place to begin colts football. Regional or district colts festivals could be arranged to start grooming talented future stars.

This should be a bigger concern for the Ghana Football Association rather than the ongoing stampede to pick the next President.

Anyway, hints from the grapevine indicate
Kurt Okraku seems to me like one who has realised his mistakes and most likely to do better if given another cchance.

I don’t know much about the GFA constitution but I believe if Kurt gets well meaning executive members like Kwasi Appiah, Alhaji Gruzah and co, he could be guided to steer our football back into the successes we are accustomed to.

The upcoming GFA elections must not be a do or die affair that would disrupt the upcoming busy schedule towards the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Credit: Ken Bediako 

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