Nearly a decade ago, I pointed to Pele’s Brazil as the sterling example for the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to follow, if, indeed, the country is to become a highly respectable soccer power and a winner like that great South American country. I, then, highlighted the fact that Brazil has a well-funded football ministry.
What this means is that while Ghana may want to continue maintaining a Sports Council and a Sports Ministry, nevertheless, it can hardly be gainsaid that it is in the sub-discipline of soccer (or Association Football) that the country has creditably acquitted itself on the global Sports Entertainment market (See “Ghana Breaks Ground for Academy” (Spyghana.com 8/6/11).
While, indeed, remarkable credit may be aptly ceded Ghana’s first president, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, and his Convention People’s Party (CPP), full credit for the development of soccer as a professional league and sustainable enterprise must go to the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics, Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah, who on the eve of the country’s independence invited a former British colonial official to Ghana and an avid soccer expert to organize the hitherto casual national pastime into a respectable and viable entertainment enterprise that today ranks among the top five on African continent.
Sadly, back then, then-Prime Minister Nkrumah and his CPP minions would vacuously, albeit vehemently, accuse Dr. Danquah of attempting to mortgage the destiny and future of Ghana to our departing colonial masters. Today, Ghanaians speak of our enviable Football League without any reference or regard, whatsoever, to the man whose ingenuity and foresight ensured that our national pastime – actually, our foremost sports-entertainment money-maker – would get a proverbial leg up on its counterparts on the primeval continent. We shall have more to talk about on the foregoing issue in due course.
For now, however, what is important to highlight is the need to seriously develop the Ghana Football Academy into a continental envy and cynosure. This, of course, would necessitate the development of a comprehensive curriculum that stands to benefit its students beyond their short professional lives on the field. Thus, for instance, degree-level courses in Sports Administration and Business Management could be established for those footballers with an academic and entrepreneurial orientation, with the necessary remediation being put in place for those lacking the requisite preparation for college-level work.
This aspect of the Ghana Football Academy could, of course, recruit sports men and women outside the soccer sub-discipline. Funding, depending on the resources of prospective students, could be a combination of self-paying students and those on grants and other forms of financial aid and scholarship depending, of course, on the availability of such resources from the Football Ministry and donor largesse.
What the foregoing means is that the President of the Ghana Football Association and his deputies would have to spend a remarkable percentage of their time engaged in serious fund-raising activities. There could also be established a separate Ministry of Games and Athletics to take care of the relatively less lucrative, albeit equally significant (health-wise), non-soccer sporting activities.
Needless to say, well-educated soccer professionals and athletes who make remarkable sums of money in salaries and bonuses would be readily encouraged to go into business as investors and entrepreneurs, thereby facilitating the rapid development and expansion of the country’s employment sector.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of 22 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008).
The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of AfricaNewsAnalysis