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Sports Features of Thursday, 15 June 2006

Source: Ulzen, Thaddeus P. Manus

The soccer dreams of three generations

I took out the paint brush, dipped it into the can of white paint and began to transform my ball. It was now white against the green luxuriant tropical grass of our Kumasi backyard. I looked at my ball. It was now real. It was no longer that brown leather sack children kicked around. It had become the mature white ball that the pictures of the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times told me the Black Stars of Ghana played with.

The man painting the house told me of the floodlights at Kumasi Sports Stadium. The Black Stars he said, played at night under the bright lights. This was an 8 year old boy?s world of football fantasies. I dreamt of the day I would take my seat under those bright lights. That day came later when my uncle Ebow took me to watch the Real Republicans sort out Asante Kotoko, 4-3 for the knockout championship.

Oh yes, I had the Black Star line up down by heart: Dodoo ?Magic hands? Ankrah, Oblitey, Crentsil, Ben Acheampong, Aggrey-Fynn, Ben Kusi, Baba Yara, Edward ?sputnik? Acquah, Mohamed Salisu, Offei Dodoo, Kwame Adarkwa. These were the men of my dreams; Ghana?s Black Stars. Then more heroes came along to keep our dreams alive; Wilberforce Mfum, Osei Kofi, ?Rubberman Nawuu, Lutterodt, Joe Aikins, George Alhassan, Jones Attuquayefio,Yaw Sam, Joe Sam, Robert Mensah (the world? best goalkeeper), Kofi Pare, Agyeman Gyau, Ganiyu Salami, Richard Barnie, Frank ?VC 10? Odoi, Amusa Gbadamosi, Abdul Razak, Abukari, Ibrahim Sunday and, many more?.

My childhood dreams of soccer supremacy were nurtured by these and so many other men who walked 8 feet tall in our collective minds as youngsters. For over 40 years, our collective national dreams were relentlessly watered and nurtured by the springs of their successes. Our almost 50 years as a nation has produced so many talented players but our history of Association Football on the world scene has been fraught with so much disappointment because of poor management, corrupt practices and a singular lack of vision and national purpose. Small minds carried this 8 year old boy?s dream and turned it into a nightmare for so long.

Out of the ashes of the long nightmare, a new dream has been born and my 15 year old son Kweku, now sees the boy in his father for the very first time. This is the allure of Association Football a.k.a soccer. We are finally there! My Black Stars have now become his Black Stars. My Black Stars wore white long sleeved jerseys with that shining Black Star of African freedom on their backs. They played under the floodlights in Kumasi and under the power of the African sun at the Accra Sports Stadium.

My son?s Black Stars must know from whence they have come. Their soccer ancestors from Skipper Aggrey-Fynn of blessed memory down the line will be with them all the way. I know they will carry my 42 year old dream with stealth, vigour and care. May the souls of their soccer ancestors inspire them to greatness on the football pitch in Hannover. We need the 19 million or so unpaid extra coaches in Ghana to lay off coach Ratomir Dujkovic and his army and let them conquer the world. All Dujkovic has done is show our nation what discipline can do for a talented people. He should be commended not vilified.

Our Black Stars, Godspeed to victory! You are already winners. You have turned old men into boys again and woken up the dead! Long live a united Ghana.

Author:

Dr. Thaddeus P. Manus Ulzen
Email: tulzen@yahoo.com