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Sports Features of Monday, 17 December 2018


Let’s reconsider criteria for national team coaches

Last Thursday was exactly three months since the Normalisation Committee (NC) of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) was tasked by FIFA to reform Ghana Football which was found to be neck deep in corruption. As the NC crosses the half-way mark of their mandate, I wish to refresh the minds of readers about the terms of reference which was given to the four-man committee by FIFA, for the benefit of those who have short memory.

In the suspense-filled GFA conference room on that fateful Thursday, September 13, 2018, Luca Nicola, FIFA's Manager of Member Associations, clearly announced the three-fold mandate of the committee thus:

• To run the affairs of the GFA in place of the executive committee and do a forensic audit of the GFA accounts.

• To review the statutes of the of the GFA in line with FIFA and CAF, particularly Article 15 of the FIFA Statutes.

• Conduct new elections for a new executive committee of the GFA.

FIFA expected the four-man team, comprising president Dr Kofi Amoah (aka Citizen Kofi), vice president Lucy Quist, Naa Odofoley Nortey and Kofi Dua-Adonteng to restore Ghana football to normalcy by March 31, 2019. All too soon, three months have gone past like a whirlwind and there is yet more grounds to be covered.

Of course, I know Dr Amoah and his team have been working like a loom since their induction in the best interest of Ghana football, and I can only wish them well as always. At least, I learn the committee has recovered the GFA accounts after it was frozen by the government last June, while they are still gathering data from the various stakeholders to ensure an effective review of the GFA Statutes.

After getting over the review of the statutes, which is the main task, the committee will be left with drawing a roadmap for the much-anticipated elections.

I must say I am impressed with the way the committee has maintained its focus on the set targets and also kept its composure so far in the face of provocation and open criticisms. As the passion of the nation, football administration naturally goes with pressure and only thick-skinned radicals can survive it.

However, I would humbly suggest to the committee to drop the idea of organising a competition for the clubs and rather concentrate on delivering on their mandate. That move will go a long way to help avoid any distraction in the performance of their duties, especially where the committee is under no obligation to organise competitions.

Instead of involving itself in competitions, the committee can just prepare the grounds for the organisation of any such competition for the incoming GFA executive. If the committee, perhaps, wants to test the efficiency of its work after the six-month period, it can still go ahead to organise a special competition jointly for Premier League and Division One clubs to prove its work. That, for me, would be more ideal.

My reason is because ‘football people’, as they call themselves, can be very difficult sometimes. So, the committee, despite its good intentions to bring back football as early as possible to get clubs and players active, should not be surprised to wake up one day to see themselves on the carpet for organising a competition outside their mandate.

Aside from that, I want the committee to also reconsider the selection criteria for junior national male teams and women’s national teams as part of the reforms. Until now, appointment of local coaches for the various junior teams — Black Meteors, Black Satellites and Black Starlets — did not follow any particular system as technical handlers were merely picked at random by the sitting FA president and his executive to satisfy their whims and caprices. The situation is no different for the three female national teams — Black Queens, Black Princesses and Black Maidens.

Unfortunately, that practice has done the nation more harm than good as some appointments sometimes raised eyebrows due to the calibre of coaches who were appointed to handle certain teams. Sadly, the same criteria has created acrimony among local coaches as some more qualified coaches have been sidelined for their less-qualified colleagues both in terms of credentials and performance.

In my view, this is a fine opportunity for the committee to streamline things and bring sanity into that aspect of our game as well.

To help address the issue and also ensure fairness and more competition in the selection of coaches for these teams, leading to better results in future, I suggest to the committee to adopt a system where local coaches, who wish to handle the male junior national teams and the women’s national teams, should be made to apply so a selection committee could scrutinise them through an interview process and pick the best candidates for the job.

I believe such a criteria will put paid to every controversy and also make national coaches more accountable as they operate within an organised structure with some clearly-defined salaries and remunerations as is the case with the Black Stars.

Under this new arrangement, coaches can strictly be given specific targets to achieve, be bonded to be of good behaviour as national teams coaches and also avoid taking bribe from player agents, managers and clubs to influence their selection as has been the norm by some coaches all these years.

With this, Ghanaians can be guaranteed that the right players would be selected to the various national teams as the net would be cast wider to catch only the best players to serve the nation, unlike the current situation where some coaches hide under the guise of non-payment of salaries and allowances to trade some reserved national team slots for some so-called highest bidders.

This is another interesting case study the committee cannot ignore at all. At least, history is replete with countless allegations about national team coaches who were fingered by players and clubs for bribe-taking before selecting certain players into their teams. I bet there is more to this than meets the eye which must be nipped in the bud.