She dared to enter a race for Ghana football’s top job – a job which has throughout the history of the organization been the preserve of men.
Amanda Akuokor Clinton took on not one, but five men, all of them immensely experienced in football administration and the sport in general.
Her only leverage was perhaps her legal opinion. Post Anas Aremeyaw’s ‘Number 12’ documentary which reminded the government of the GFA’s autonomy and the repercussions of interference as government moved to dissolve the country’s football governing body, hers was a voice constantly on the airwaves giving insight.
The outcome for Miss Clinton looked written, indelibly and beforehand, on the wall but she forged ahead in the hope that promises made to her by delegates would be fulfilled.
She got no votes and dropped out after the first round of voting. Clinton views her participation in the GFA election as a risk which has paid off in other ways.
“She or he who dares wins, and if you’re not willing to take risks in life you’re not going to see real benefits. And I’ve always taken risks, particularly professionally. I’ve gained a lot by doing that.”
The lawyer went back to legal work and her botched GFA Presidential dream has had a positive ripple effect on her career. For many this isn’t much of a surprise. The consensus has been that she joined the GFA presidential race for the national exposure it offered.
She denies it, but admits that the journey has had a good effect.
“My legal practice boomed after running for president. I got a lot more inquiries from people. In a very humble way however there wasn’t that much fanfare about the [GFA election] contestants but because perhaps a female entrant entered, and it was getting closer to the time then the media hype started.”
She may have gone back to what she does best, law, but her love for the sport remains intact. On her computer she points to a story on one of Ghana’s major football websites, where Kurt Okraku, the GFA president, appears to have promised to share Fifa’s emergency COVID-19 fund among clubs.
Amanda acknowledges that Okraku has a tough job because the members of the GFA are hard to please.
“It’s almost as if you can never please them. Like this Covid fund, even if you give them half a million [dollars], I’m sure they would say it wasn’t distributed. They’re very keen to represent the body of Ghana football and to air their grievances but they also have a very negative mindset.”
She believes eight months is not enough time to evaluate the work of Okraku, especially because nearly three of that have been blighted by repercussions of the virus.
A lot of the criticism directed at Kurt has been about how he has surrounded himelf with ‘his own people’ but Clinton reckons it is a consequence of the criticism and negativity, and the need to be in control.
You don’t give people six extra months to give a definite view. You don’t give them a bit of rope in other to either hang themselves or to prove what their style is. Within the GFA in particular it has become almost insipid whereby people criticize Kurt a lot because he brought a lot of his own people in.”
“From another stand point if he felt as if everything he does is going to be leaked and criticized, and he’s not in control then he has to take control to a certain extent. The delegates are quick to criticize and are incredibly negative.”
More than half a year later, she appears to have a much better grip of the football politics dynamics. Clinton wasn’t rejected by Ghana football because of her gender, it was more about the risk she represented in the opinion of delegates after the turbulent period of normalization.
She has no plans of putting her face on the ballot for the second time but she’s open to accepting a role within Ghana football.
“After six months of reflection and just being able to step away from the situation, I think I’ll be more willing to accept a role in Ghana football. My skillset has always been communication and strategy. I’m definitely open to a role within Ghana football.”
And what about lessons from joining the Ghana FA presidential race? She borrows the words of Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, after he lost his position to Kwabena Adjei Agyepong in the April 2014 NPP executive elections.