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Sports News of Sunday, 10 May 2015

Source: David Apinga

Herbert Mensah spearheads 14th anniversary of May 9 disaster

The Former Asante Kotoko Board Chairman, Mr. Herbert Mensah has organized a commemoration event in Accra for victims of the May 9 disaster which claimed 126 fans at the Accra Sports Stadium in 2001.

Mr. Herbert Mensah, the then Chairman of Kotoko has embarked on a herculean task through personal efforts to cater for families that are going through difficult times due to the loss of loved ones who were bread winners of their household.

This year the families of victims who live in Kumasi met other families in Accra to share their experiences and interact about the aftermath of the sad incident.

The dark day in the history of Ghana football has left an indelible mark on the memories of the affected ones.

Maame Bissi recounts that she was seven months pregnant and was at the hospital when the incident occurred. She has struggled to feed herself and daughter who will be 14 years in July. She showered a lot blessings and praise on Mr. Herbert Mensah who has provided immense support over the years.

"Life has been difficult. I was not working but started to work after giving birth but I later developed a spinal problem and now I can no longer work. Herbert Mensah gave me money to do my surgical operations. He also gives my children and I money for our upkeep. I am appealing to the government to help us so that we can also use the little we make in catering for our domestic needs" she appealed .

For Auntie Yaa Fuah who hails from Pankronoo in Kumasi. Her life has been a misery and all her hopes were lost after the death of her son Williams Agyapong, a car dealer in Accra. She described Mr. Herbert Mensah as a saviour who intervened with advice, goodwill messages and funds every year.

Her daughter has completed Senior High School but unemployed . She is calling on government and the general public to support hers family.

Mr. Herbert Mensah explained in an interview that "those days will never leave my memory which is why I have been very vocal on other issues because authority needs to stand up and take responsibility for their action"

Mr. Mensah is calling on stakeholders to play a more active role to augment efforts of individuals to help bereaved families.

"If you care for something you do it, we don't have to wait for anybody. But I've only been able to do it because of the supporters of both sides who appreciate that we are ready to sacrifice our energy, time and resources".

On 15 April 1989, a similar incident occurred in the United Kingdom in what is referred today as the Hillsborough stadium disaster. It left 96 Liverpool fans dead and 766 injured. A foundation was formed with the help of authorities to provide for the victim's family after the incident.

Mr. Mensah will welcome such an intervention in Ghana for authorities to be more proactive and honour the lost souls while providing financial aid for surviving relatives.

"I spoke with the ladies at Hillsborough who have been fighting this thing for 26 years in the UK. They said to me that at least they have the support of the people of Liverpool and I feel that proclamation was a very powerful statement".

Asked why he sacrifices so much to observe May 9, Herbert said that he is a proud African with a sense of humanity for the ordinary people.

"I am somebody who believes that the ultimate and most important person is the one who has nothing and sadly it is these people who died on May 9 ".

Various activities have been lined up for the second part of the anniversary that will take place in Kumasi. There will be an inter- Zongo soccer sports tournament from Thursday, 7th May to Saturday, 9th May 2015. A prayer will be offered for the departed souls at the Kumasi Central Mosque on Friday, 9th May.

Community workshops will be held to educate people on safety in football. The annual route match with take place with 2000 people expected to participate. A thanksgiving church ceremony will be held on Sunday 10th May, 2015.

Mr. Mensah thanked various individuals and corporate bodies who provided sponsorship to support the good cause of May 9.