Sports

Feature: Normalizing Ghana football, the GOLDEN role of the Sports Ministry

Following the dramatic Anas Exposé on 7th June 2018, Ghana football capsized and there was no hope of its return in the shortest possible time as both government and the football family were at sea as to what to do to restore the game.

The government of Ghana, through the Attorney General, attempted liquidating the GFA despite knowing it was a private entity but the action was vehemently opposed by the football fraternity, championed by president of Division One League side Tema Youth FC, Osei Kwaku Winfred.

The confused state of the Attorney General was incredibly shocking because of the legal antecedents of the case, more so being championed by the embodiment of law in the country.

It took a liaison team from a joint action by FIFA and CAF to start the steering of the football affairs in the country which later metamorphosed into a Normalization Committee that was given an initial period of six months which was later extended due to their inability to complete their mandate.

The governance period of the Normalization Committee was impregnated with dramatic decisions and pure demonstration of showmanship until the dying period of their reign which attracted a lot of plaudits from Ghanaians, especially with the introduction of the presidential debate and the subsequent election of a GFA President.

But there was a key element in this whole process which many have ignored, or better still, have not accorded the needed appraisal and commendation it deserves; The Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Led by Hon. Isaac Asimah deserves all the positive accolades a Minister of State deserves for the indispensable role his office played during the normalization period of Ghana football. I call it the GOLDEN intervention.

Within the period of Normalization of Ghana football – from 13th September 2018 to 25th October 2019, the role of the Sports Ministry in steering the football affairs of the country were not just amazing but timely.

The initial hurdle cleared by the Ministry was the financial assistance given to Asante Kotoko for their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup in 2018. I recollect the Normalization Committee writing to CAF to withdraw Ghana’s participation from the elite club competition despite AshGold and Medeama, then joint league leaders, and Asante Kotoko announcing their readiness to represent the country.

The decision was later reversed and despite AshGold and Medeama withdrawing their participation subsequently, Asante Kotoko went on to play. And handsomely, the Porcupine Warriors were amazing in the competition but not without the financial support of the Sports Ministry.

The Porcupine Warrior were cushioned with $150k by the Sports Ministry to embark on their campaign which was a success considering where the club got to in the exercise.

This money, though not adequate, served as a springboard for the Porcupine Warriors and encouraged other clubs to fight for the ticket to represent the country in the next competition.

Then came the NC Special Competition. The proposal of this competition, the drama of showmanship from Dr. Amoah vis a vis the football clubs and the timely intervention of the Sports Ministry were just mindboggling. While the NC felt they were in charge and could take any decision they deem fit to run the system, the clubs on the other hand felt they were the key stakeholders and will not simply cave in to the NC’s claims. To quote the NC, it was a pure show of ‘braggadocio.’

The Sports Ministry again stepped in at this point, ironed out the differences and set new modalities for the take-off of the competition, and zooooooom, it was off to a flying start.

Once again, the financial package for the competition was provided by the Hon. Asiamah-led Sports Ministry; Ȼ200k for the winner of the Tier 1 Competition which was eventually won by Asante Kotoko and Ȼ180k for the winner of the Tier 2 which was scooped by AshGold.

A vital step taken by the Ministry was the payment of the referees allowances which nearly stalled the competition following agitations from the center men. It was eventually settled, the referees were paid part of their fees and they picked their tools back to work.

Despite giving the winner of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 the Ȼ200k and Ȼ180k respectively as price money for winning the competitions, the Sports Ministry also announced a financial support package of $200k for Asante Kotoko and $150 for AshGold to support their participation in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions if they get to the group stages. And despite not getting that far, my checks have revealed that the Sports Ministry has reached an agreement with the clubs to help mitigate their cost in the competition.

Not only did the Sports Ministry fuel the local game with financial assistance to ensure its smooth running, the national teams were given proper support. Of course, there were a few challenges but the participation of the Black Stars in the 2019 AFCON which was preceded by a two-week Dubai camping and a mouthwatering financial packages for the team as well as the Black Stars B’s WAFU and CHAN competition, and the Black Meteors U23 AFCON qualifying campaign and their subsequent participation in the tournament in Egypt were all accelerated by the Sports Ministry.

One will be quick to say the Sports Ministry is the overlord of sports in the country and their actions were expected which is quite understandable but this write-up is just chronicling the GOLDEN role the Sports Ministry played during the period of the normalization process of Ghana football.

In actual fact, the Normalization Committee were symbolically in charge of the running of Ghana football during the period of normalization but in reality, the Sports Ministry was steering the affairs.

For the restructuring of the football system, massive credit must goes to Dr. Kofi Amoah and his team but the financial strength needed to carry the various competitions and activities were provided by the Sports Ministry.

A famous Hausa maxim goes like this: “Yabon gwani, yaazama doole,” literary meaning ‘applauding a hero is a necessity’ and at this point I think the Sports Minister Hon. Isaac Kwame Asiamah must be applauded for the GOLDEN role in getting football back on track.

Source: Sheikh Tophic Sienu/Joydaddymultimedia.com

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