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Sports Features of Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Source: Mawuena, Emmanuel Kwasi

Taking a break from the national team

As a country, we need to honour our heroes and be patient with them. For a country that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for. Accordingly, I congratulate the Black Stars for the hard won victory over the Zambians which has put them on a pedestal for Brazil 2014 and also wish them well in the impending encounter with the Pharaoh’s of Egypt. It is abhorrent however, to see extreme hooliganism of football enthusiasts who descend angrily on players in a difficult time such as missing a penalty kick. Beyond this, some funs go as far as issuing threats on the life of players and their family members. Even though passion for the game of football may trigger emotions flying, such attitudes are uncalled-for and certainly condemnable. Indeed, our hard working players are worthy of praise for their gallant service to Mother Ghana and with the wisdom in an African adage that says, 'he who goes to the river side breaks a pot', we need to develop a tender heart towards our players in tough times.

However, inasmuch as we need to be patient with our players, it is equally important to make it clear to them that this country is greater than any single player and even any group of players. This message is essential so that patience is not used as a mask or misconstrued to fuel arrogance and indiscipline in the National team. As we often tell our politicians that Ghana is greater than any political party or any individual and the country will live far beyond them, the national team players should also bear in mind that Ghana is far beyond any one of them.

History brings to memory great players of Ghana and other countries who have served their countries and are long dead while their countries continue to be represented on the field of play. On April 27, 1993, Zambia national football team on board a flight for an African cup qualifier against Senegal in Dakar crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 500 metres offshore Libreville, Gabon. The plane crash resulted in the death of all 30 people largely made up of team members on board. In spite of this unfortunate incident, the country was not only represented in the 1994 African cup of nations but reached the final. The unfortunate incident brought some younger unknown players to the limelight.

One tenet of life is that irrespective of who you think you are in life, you are far from being indispensable. Those who depend on you or the world will never come to a halt without you. What then has our national team players in Ghana been telling us over the years? What is this unbecoming attitude and arrogant posture of ‘taking a break’, ‘taking a temporary leave’ of the national team? Why do they think they can take such imprudent breaks and yet resume at any time with rousing welcome? Perhaps what is most annoying about this whole saga is the manner they attempt their comeback by seeking indulgence from Presidents and eminent Chiefs. Meanwhile, they do not seek any form of counsel from these noble statesmen before embarking on their cheeky self-seeking agenda. Inasmuch as we need talented players in the national team, it must be made clear without any element of doubt that playing for the national team is a privilege which should not be treated with this kind of contempt.

This country is plagued with many problems in the like of bad sanitation, poor electricity and water services, school under trees and bad roads which are killing people. In spite of all these problems waiting for solution, the country set aside huge resources in paying opulent allowances to players who represent the national team even to the neglect of other sports. Ghanaians continue to endure many horrible living conditions in addition to the many heartbreaks of disappointment from the performance of this very national team over the years. Amidst this, the least expected from our players is this incorrigible attitude toward a call to service for country; a call that is well rewarded. After all, many well meaning Ghanaians continue to die in different sphere of national life without rewards and /or recognition. It is time authorities put a stop to this bad practice that has been allowed unchecked over the years. Besides, what do these crops of arrogant players add to the team than division? There are lot more players waiting to be discovered. The country should be represented by patriotic players who lose a match than unpatriotic and arrogant players who often end up achieving nothing different anyway. Who even cares if they win? I prefer patriotic loss to unpatriotic win. Long live Ghana Black Stars, Long live Ghana.

Emmanuel Kwasi Mawuena Accra