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Re: Kwesi Appiah is Genius!
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Sports Features of Thursday, 17 October 2013

Source: Papa Appiah

Re: Kwesi Appiah is Genius!

Please allow me to respond to the rather gross oversimplification of issues relating to the appointment of Kwesi Appiah, espoused in the article by Mr Daniel Pryce. In fact, Mr Pryce displayed in the very tone of his article a glaring lack of understanding of football. He sought to jump on the wagon at a time the whole country was celebrating to castigate people who opposed the appointment of the coach. If he understood football, he would appreciate, that opposition to the appointment of coaches is as much a part of football as anything else. But people do not stop supporting their teams. All a coach has to do is to attempt to prove his critics wrong and win over the fans by winning. And then the fans celebrate together. So there is really no need to attempt to patronize Ghanaians with frankly, silly statements like wondering “if the “White is better” syndrome had permanently distorted Ghanaians’ collective judgment”

I am sorry but the issue is far more complicated than that. This was not a political appointment. It was a football one. The issue for many Ghanaians was not whether the coach was a “native-born, dark skinned” or “a light-skinned, straight-haired man with an aquiline nose.” Believe me, Ghanaians do know their football. It was an issue simply of competence. Kwesi Appiah may yet turn out to be the best coach ever, but his appointment was risky. You may not agree, but I believe and so do many Ghanaians, that being an assistant coach of the same Eastern European coaches you so vilify in your article hardly qualifies one to become a Black Star coach. Neither does a gold medal in the All African under-23 competition. Please do me a favour and check the CVs of all the coaches who have qualified for the World Cup and you might begin to understand where some of us are coming from. Being an assistant coach is one thing, but there is really nothing in the coach’s CV to prove he could be an independent coach of the Black Stars, unlike Maxwell Konadu for instance, who had built two teams successfully at senior level and won trophies. There is a difference.

When England realised they did not have qualified men for the job, they employed foreign coaches. The difference, however, was that England, unlike Ghana, started to take measures to try to correct that deficiency and also to improve the technical skills of their players. They invested in among other things, building the modern training facility in Burton to try to train a new breed of coaches. Of course we would all like to see local men do the job. But we do not attain that by simply hollering over the hills. We need to invest in our local league, build facilities for training, increase the standards of our coaching courses to match the UEFA courses and not be content with the two week courses we organise for our people, and gradually churn out men with the same level of competence as coaches anywhere else in the world. I look forward to the day when coaches trained in Ghana can walk into any European side and start working. So it is not simply a black or white issue my dear Mr Pryce. Qualification and competence is what matters.

Of course “native-born, dark-skinned coaches were in charge when the Black Stars won continental trophies in 1963, 1965, 1978, and 1982.” What you should know, however, was that in three of them, the coach was one person –Mr CK Gyamfi, a man who in building his own team as a youngster and taking them to the first division as it then was, had shown unusual leadership and managerial skills long before he played in Germany and trained as a coach before taking over the Black Stars. Books written by him on football are still in use in many places. Please compare his CV with Mr Appiah’s and you might just spot a difference.

“That Ghanaians would despise Kwesi Appiah’s appointment as head coach of the Black Stars was as disappointing as it was appalling.” Well, Mr Pryce, it is not the first time football fans have been unhappy with an appointment and it is surely not going to be the last. Unlike you, many of us were not going to sing his praises merely because he happened to be a “native-born darkie.” We were more interested in his managerial achievements.

Is it not rather absurd that at a time that Kwesi Appiah himself is working very hard to try to win over his critics, you should decide to attempt to ridicule opponents of his appointment with such an ill-informed article. A 6-1 win against mighty Egypt is a brilliant result that Ghanaians will remember for a long time. Kwesi Appiah, with this victory alone has worked his way into the history books and even those of us who opposed his appointment have to begin to take a step back and congratulate him, not because he is “darkie”, but simply because of a significant football managerial achievement.

But in our eagerness to rejoice and take credit for being the ones who foresaw all the heroics, we should not forget, that for the Black Stars, with the quality of players that we have, qualifying for the World Cup is to be expected, whoever is in charge of the team. It is what we do at the World Cup that is really important. So the job is only half done. I hope that as Ghanaians, we let this victory unite us rather than divide us so together, we can support the boys to perform where it really matters.

Papa Appiah


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