GFA Elections: George Afriyie launches manifesto, pledges measured growth of football

GFA Elections: George Afriyie launches manifesto, pledges measured growth of football
Source: Ghana | | Gary Al-Smith
Date: 06-10-2019 Time: 09:10:42:pm

George Afriyie looked pensive at his own manifesto launch in Sunyani when two weeks ago, he looked lively at Kurt Okraku's event in Accra.

Later, he would explain. 

"Whatever happened previously is our collective shame, and none can be absolved from the last 13 years. We have the opportunity now to right the wrongs and usher our Association into a glorious future."

The event, which came off at the Eusbett International Conference Center in the Bono Region, drew major football stakeholders, and media from across the country.

"This campaign is not about me. It is about restoring, reviving and reforming our game", he said.

A slew of traditional leaders accompanied the former GFA Vice President into the auditorium, where he pledged to power Ghana football into an exciting future, despite the challenges. 

The ceremony was not as snazzy with bells and whistles as that of Kurt Okraku, but it was nonetheless a serious statement of intent about Afriyie's ambitions.

For many, events of national character like this one must be done in Accra to get resonance across the country. Afriyie bucked the trend, opting for the Sun City instead. 

"I choose to launch here because the Bono and Ahafo area is the real hub of football in Ghana. Everywhere in the country people love football, but this area has more Premier League and lower division clubs than anywhere else. And so, politically, it makes sense to come here to approach the delegates directly".

But he needed a media presence, which is why he organised media buses from the capital and Kumasi, the two hubs of sports journalism and where the critical mass of stations are based.

In a campaign season where each presidential hopeful has quietly played the my-team-use-technology-better-than-the-others game, Afriyie made sure to live stream the entire proceedings via his Facebook page, while live TV coverage was offered by GTV. 

"I want to prove that when I say my administration will have a can-do spirit, it is not just mere words. We could have taken the easier way of doing it in Accra, where facilities are easier to mobilise. But we've brought the launch, and achieved everything we could have done in the capital," Afriyie noted.

The key thing for everyone present was the policies.

There, Afriyie provided a mix of regulars (similar ideas to Wilfred Osei, who launched policy document last Wednesday; and Kurt Okraku) as well as a few novelties.

Broadly speaking, Afriyie pledged to fight corruption, engage the media, be conciliatory with government and have player welfare at heart. All that is a staple for the presidential hopefuls, and was not new.

However, his pledge to ensure all Premier League clubs pay players a minimum of $1000 resonated and got loud cheers.

"We only have to be creative and work hand in hand with the clubs, some of whom already pay their top stars about $800-$1000 a month", he emphasised.

By the time the event was done, he had enumerated several policy ideas. Here are the key ones we've highlighted:

1. Colts football will cease to be under the RFAs. Will champion the formation of a National Colts League and work with GES to get the colts league to be synchronized with the school calendar.

2. Upgrade Ghanaman Soccer School of Excellence with swimming pool, gym, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. Build two additional pitches (one natural, one artificial) with floodlights for national teams to train at night with when in camp.

3. Liaise with Government to release its Youth Training Centres being built nationwide as well as the Zongo Community Parks to be made available to our football teams at subsidized rates.

4. Ghanaian teams have the potential of paying a minimum wage of $1000. The Afriyie administration has creative funding templates for clubs to make it a reality.

5. Introduce a PR unit as well as the Research and Data to archive historical information and provide timely statistical services.

6. Lobby for an increase of Vice Presidency to three persons - each with a specialize portfolio. Advocate for the inclusion of a Juvenile Clubs’ Representative on the Executive Council. 

7. Organize periodic Ghana Football Fairs. Launch a Development Fund where a percentage of all GFA sponsorships, a percentage of gate proceeds revenues, and a percentage of transfer fees accrued will be channelled.

8. Abolish payment of officiating fees for women's teams, and supply them with basic logistics such as bibs, footballs, and cones for free. Train more female coaches and organise upgrades for existing coaches.

The GFA elections are slated for October 25.