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Feature Article of Monday, 13 February 2012

Columnist: Aboagye, Abdulai

Ahabayere" (Wild Yam) Mentality And The Defeat Of The Black Stars

The defeat of Ghana Black Stars at the hands of a retreating Zambia and the subsequent humiliation by the Malians has taught us some lessons. As in any such situation most people, pumped up by adrenaline and limbic overdrive are quick to argue for the firing of the Coach. And in most cases the coach is made the scape-goat and we sweep the real problem under the carpet. Similar fate, by all indications, will happen to coach Plavi and the real problem will be swept under the carpet and everybody will be happy hoping for miracles to happen in the next tournament. This writer however, believes this debacle gives us a great opportunity to do a soul searching and learn some few lessons. The writer believes the fall of the mighty Black Stars is a manifestation of a deeper Ghanaian problem and attitude towards sports development in Ghana.

It is what the writer calls ahabayere or wild yam sports development agenda. What then is ahabayere or wild yam mentality? It simply means leaving everything to grow in the wild and go and claim credit for it when it bears fruit. In order words, as the owner of the wild yam you basically do nothing for its development. Your only claim to the yam is because it grew on your land. Such has been the attitude of the GFA leadership in relations to the development of soccer in Ghana.

Over the years Ghana has produced some of the best players to ever have graced the surface of the earth.

I always argue that with a better developed sports agenda, Ghana can produce better players than Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Holland or Germany.

However the GFA unlike the football associations and sports administrators in these countries who have a systematic way of developing players who grow to become polished technically gifted players continually, our wild yam system produce only intermittent cycle of good players mostly every decade. Such was the case of Ghana from 1978 to 1982, 1990 to 1994 and from 2006 to 2010. And so like the proverbial wild yam our players take years and go through all sorts of hardship to develop.

When Ghana performed admirably in the 2010, we were blessed with some hard cash. What did we do with it? The last time I read the GFA was going to build a hotel with the money. When Alhaji Grunsah argued that GFA should give some of the monies to the teams that produce the players nobody paid any attention. After all, we do have players abroad who will rush down anytime need them to play for us when the need arise. And so as things stand now Ghana’s domestic league has become breeding grounds for teams in Sudan, Egypt, Cyprus, China and Indonesia.

Way to win the World cup, Ghana!

Somebody should tell Nyantakyi and his GFA that for Ghana to become a perennial formidable team in all competitions certain things are more important than hotels. Firstly is youth development. The GFA and the Sports ministry should be very particular about the development of youth football in Ghana.

Youth soccer development is not about assembling suspicious looking youth teams, but it’s about making sure that there are tangible youth teams either attached to the established teams or independent that is interested in developing youth soccer.

It is also about upgrading the skills of the coaches and trainers of our teams. Almost every soccer enthusiast in Ghana agree that Jones Atuquafio is one of the best coaches Ghana has ever produced but we all forget that he became a better coach after the then Goldfields sponsored him to go abroad to enhance his skills. Without good teachers no school can be a good school. It is also about investing in training facilities of our various teams especially the premier league teams. So it is also about sports nutrition, clinics etc.

More so it is also about using our soccer capital to ensure that we get best out of our soccer in terms of generating revenue for our national team and our various. . We should learn how to market our teams and also diversify their sources of income. To this end, the GFA and the sports ministry should liaise with the our Universities to introduce sports administration degrees and our teams especially the premier league teams, should be required to hire qualified administrators to help run the day-to-day affairs of the teams.

In the end one can safely say that wild yam players produce wild yam teams. So for us to produce great teams that will stand the test of time we need to sit up and make the right investments because modern football is serious business. Long Live Ghana!!!

By Abdulai Aboagye

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