Sports Features of Monday, 26 May 2014
Source: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai
Can you imagine a President in an African nation registering to play in a top flight soccer league of his country? This has happened in a South American nation, Bolivia, where the 54 year old Evo Morales is lacing his boots to play as a midfielder for a first division club in August.
The club known as Sport Boys is a team based in the south-eastern province of Santa Cruz. "He loves football and plays well," said Sport Boys' president Mario Cronenbold who says the president will wear the No 10 shirt."
This move by the sitting Bolivian president should not be strange to us in Ghana where majority of the elderly men have tasted soccer either in school or our neighborhoods where every space is used as a soccer field. This is why most nations in Africa including Ghana consider football as our passion. Indeed we have examples of professionals in Africa such as doctors, engineers and children of noblemen like late colonel Gaddafi to have taken part in club soccer at top levels at home and abroad. However, this is the first time the world would witness a sitting president who is above football age and would be travelling with soccer players to soccer venues to show his skills in soccer. He does not seem to bother about issues of security and many admirers at soccer venues. Instead, his involvement in soccer is likely to increase the hype for the sport with the possibility of many people trooping to watch soccer in Bolivia because of their president.
The president is said to be a good soccer professional player he will receive the minimum salary of about $214 (£127) a month. The world is yet to see whether he would put in his all in the game for his team. We are also yet to find out whether his opponents would treat him as a fellow footballer or a Head of State.
Because he has featured in football matches with journalist unions and other presidents and is said to be fit, his countrymen feel he would do well in the team. However, he has been given the option to chose when he would play but would be limited to play for only 20 minutes in a match.
In this day and age people including presidents, are allowed to exercise their freedom of association. No one can then stop the Bolivian president from pursuing his passion. He is definitely going to benefit from soccer as it would enhance his physical fitness. Yes, what soccer does (apart from the reward and trophy given out) is to make the players fit. In Ghana, most professionals and traditional rulers such as the Asantehene Otunfuor Osei Tutu Ababio are active with their weekly sporting activities sometimes on competitive basis. The Asantehene and Most of our leaders seem to be fit and strong as they go about their duties.
If they have not done so already, all heads of states in Africa and ministers, parliamentarians and senior journalists and security personnel must intensify their involvement in soccer and other sports such as daily and weekly jogging, squash, lawn tennis and golf, for in sports lies our hope for physical fitness.
By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai
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