The 101st birthday of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was marked in Ghana with a holiday in respect of the great man’s priceless contribution to his country and the continent. It is a sad irony that over five decades after his death, we are still offering lip service, showering praises and laying wreaths instead of simply following the templates he left behind as a legacy.
Perfect timing for some of us to become unpopular by telling the politicians and decision makers to act and stop talking jazz.
I think you know where i am coming from? So who will be given the nod to handle the Black Stars from January 2011? I have made a personal humble plea to Ghana FA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi to seriously let history and past mistakes guide the committee tasked to select a national coach.
To his credit, the FA President stated that he is well aware that when the Black Stars was first assembled before he was born, it constituted as much a political symbol as a national football team. “We all know that Nkrumah stood for excellence and he championed the cause of the black man.” But Nyantakyi was quick to add “That is why we are determined to get the best coach for the Black Stars.”
The Black Stars of Ghana (as well as Africa in accordance with the Osagyefo’s vision) represented the new African personality and identity – An African ready to fight his own battles and in those now legendary words, “to prove to the world, that the black man is fully capable of managing his own affairs”.
Kwame Nkrumah was acutely aware that if he crafted ‘his’ Black Stars well, he would use this as a means to win new friends and reach out to influence not just Africa but the world. Clearly if we project this foresight in a purely football context, then the great man’s vision has only just started to manifest as we witnessed in Germany and more recently at the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.
The Black Stars is not just a football team, the players are not just ambassadors of Ghana, and Ghana is not just an emerging football nation today. The phenomenal attention and support the team can attract in 90 minutes, no political party or leader has been able to do since Ghana gained independence. That is why today, many believe that the Black Stars is still influenced by the spirit of Nkrumah from his grave as an inspiration to the rest of Africa and the black race.
Yet, even though the truth is staring us right in the face, it appears to be too painful for us to admit. It is no shame nor is it disrespectful to say that our local coaches must raise their game and match the high standards that the playing body has been doing over a considerable period of time.
As you ingest these considerations, the phones are ringing, emails are crossing time zones and the clock continues to tick as the GFA prepare to shortlist their top three candidates out of 58 names for interviews in Accra at the end of next month.
Time will not permit an extensive effort to discuss all of the options and even more significantly, ramifications of the final decision of the football controlling body but to the decision makers and kingmakers, i will however, make some humble suggestions for further thought and consideration in the quest for a new coach for Ghana. First, we should scrutinize the staggering statistics below.
Whatever final decision is taken, leadership from the FA in consultation with the government will be key for who ever is appointed.
Suport from the media will be as crucially important as we feed on and off the emotions of the masses. Yet, the trap that FIFA always springs when it comes to governments so called tampering with football will be at the back of the minds of the men who brief the President in the current administration.
I am sure President Mills is aware of this and that could explain why he wasted little time in making that dressing room speech and prayer before Ghana beat USA to reach the quarter finals at the World Cup. Ghana won, so everyone was happy so there was no cause for what if? Then, there was his follow up “thank you” visit to see Mr Sepp Blatter in Zurich a few weeks ago without a single member of the FA at hand.
Did Nkrumah’s vision for the Black Stars suddenly re-emerge to President Mills as he realised that progress of the team at the tournament could rub off and potentially reflect in Ghana’s political and economic influence on the continent and the world?
The greatest irony in this dilemma to appoint a local coach as against an expatriate is that the government of Ghana and the GFA are supposed to be pushing one and the same agenda for and behalf of the people of Ghana. That is the theory.
The reality however,is starkly different to the extent that the search for the perfect coach for the Black Stars has already started biting and raising it’s ghastly political head.
Yes we all want to see a Ghanaian coach in charge of the Black Stars but none of us want an average or just a good coach. Like the founder of the nation, we want the best and if it means another expatriate to buy us a little more time to groom our own man for the anointing, then so be it.
By Yaw Ampofo Ankrah
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