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Sports Features of Saturday, 6 June 2020

Source: Mohammed Rabiu Adam

Football retirement challenges in Ghana

Easing of restrictions put in play by the government to curb the spread of corona virus will largely benefit football fanatics in the country. Arguably, football is one of the major sporting discipline that involved teamwork for success. Talented people who play football as professional career have made significant impact on their lives and that of others in terms of provision of humanitarian support. Globally, football stars who have hanged their boots could be said to be enjoying from the fruits of their labour are examples to witness. Notably are David Beckham; formerly of Manchester United, Frank Lampard also formerly of Chelsea and among others.

But, the storyline in Africa content seemed fizzle. Although, the likes of Samuel Eto of Cameroun, George Oppong Manneh Weah of Liberia, and that of Ghanaian stars like Abedi Ayew Pele, Anthony Yeboah, Anthony Baffoe, Sammy Kuffour among others are enjoying comfortable life. However, the kind of living conditions some of the retired footballers in the country are going through are becoming worrisome. Just recently, former goalkeeper William Ammamo is reported to have made donation to one time stopper for Ghana Black Stars player, Agyemang Duah who also is believed to be struggling after active football career that could be described as pathetic.

Agyemang Duah in his hay days featured for the three most enterprising and successful clubs in Ghana football history being Accra Hearts of Oak, Kumasi Ashanti Kotoko and Obuasi Goldfields now (Ashgold). Further, Ghanaians witnessed the kind of struggling most decorated and successful player, and coach Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio went through before joining his Maker. Sir Attuaquayefio life at point in time became unbearable leading to organizing of charity football match to raise funds to support his deteriorating health condition and the subsequent hullabaloos on the gate proceeds are probably now history.

Again, former winger of Ghana Black Stars, Sekondi Eleven Wise, Hasaacas; and Kumasi Ashanti Kotoko, Kofi Abbrey is also reported looking for the contact of current President of Republic of Liberia, His Excellency George Oppong Maneh Weah so he could receive financial support to treat his ailments his former teammate back in Cameroun. Meanwhile the ankarachi cho and the the-doo the-doo were at that time powerful football clubs.

Again, an industrious, prolific goal puncher and one time captain and coach of the national team Ghana Black Stars from Twin City Isaac Nana Eshun who battled with his life and was later to receive support by the management Al Ahly for his remarkable and tremendous role in the clubs history achievement. But unfortunately kicked the bucket before the kind gesture from the Al Ahly of Egypt for medical support. Apart the players mentioned above, there are equally number of them who are languishing in abject poverty after retirement.

The most recent of such stories is that of Abu Imoro, a former teammate of the legend Abedi Ayew Pele. Abu Imoro in a short video which has gone viral confessed of drugs being the cause of his predicament. Come to think of it, why some of these footballers found themselves in these unbearable conditions after active and successful career? How come some of their counterpart are comfortably going about with their normal life? Talk about Rev Osei Kofi, Mohammed Ahmed Polo, Abedi Ayew Pele, Anthony yeboah, Anthony Baffoe, Sammy Kuffour and among others.

One would certainly want to dig into circumstances leading to these two extreme lifestyles. Is it the possible to blame the individual’s footballers on personal grounds for extravagant lifestyles where one spend on women, drinks and drugs? Can this retirement predicament be squarely blame on the meagre salaries being paid by the various club owners? Is it possible to zoom-in the role of club managers’ failures in paying of outstanding or promised bonuses to their players? Just take the case of Yusif Chibsah pronouncement on the 2006 World Cup qualifying bonuses and Amankwah Mireku also lamenting on failure by then managers of Accra Hearts of oak for honouring promises made upon winning the CAF Confederation cup in 2004.

Time has come for the government through Ministry of Sports to ensure clubs enter into proper contractual terms with their players and in this contract should be informal sector Social Security and National Insurance Trust(SSNIT) monthly contributions. Further, the Professions Retired Footballers Association should constantly organise seminars and workshops to educate the current crop of players on how to management their finance before retirement. Such investment portfolio with less risk be made available to them so they could be advised to invest against the unseen future.

Undoubtedly, football is career and profession, however could be described as short-term profession as one it is easily short-change with injuries. Where are the likes of Abu Iddrisu of Ecuador 1995 fame and Abubakar Yahuza formerly King Faisal who played his professional career in Israel? Injury also brought careers of so many footballers to an abrupt end.

Is it possible as part of collective efforts to revive the dwindling lifestyles of some of these players through organizing charity matches in the various stadia across the country where they themselves will participate with their old playmate. Can you imagine Abedi Ayew Pele given a pass to Abu Imoro, certainly Psychologists will say that will be a tremendous roadmap to revive disappointed lifestyle. Emmanuel Yartey story and that of others are not different. Current footballers should also acquire employable skills so that when they retire, they can skill work to earn a living.

Mohammed Rabiu Adam
(mohammedrabiuadam@gmail.com)
Social Studies Teacher
Tiwnikli International Senior High School (TINASCO)
Republic of Turkey Street,
Ghana National Mosque Complex,
Kanda-Accra

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