Sports Features of Thursday, 13 September 2012

Source: Christopher Opoku

Black Stars Management Committee needs revamping

In our part of the world, and perhaps this may also prove true for the rest of the world, footballers are generally complex human beings who need a lot of attention. A great footballer can have a bad day at the office, and unless great care is taken in finding out why, on the surface, the player feels neglected and continues to play badly.

That is why it is always necessary, at least in our part of the world, to have a management committee for our national teams so that certain issues can be resolved. Also, as the adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and to add to that, if you do not have or make time, you cannot plan effectively. The focus of this piece is to take a look at the current makeup of the Black Stars Management Committee and why I feel that it needs to be revamped for the good of the Black Stars.

Now don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that the current members cannot do the job, but examining the profiles of the distinguished gentlemen who make up the Committee, you begin to wonder if they have time to actually focus on the job at hand.

To recap, Ghana Football Association chairman Kwasi Nyantakyi is the current Committee Chairman and the membership comprises of, until his untimely death, Jordan Anagblah, Berekum Chelsea owner Emmanuel Kyeremeh, Medeama SC President Moses Armah, former Okwahu United supremo Kwame Ofosu Bamfo (Sikkens) and Tano Bofoakwa Board Chairman and National Organiser of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Yaw Boateng-Gyan.

A cursory glance at the surviving membership will show that all the aforementioned men are hugely successful in their various fields of endeavor and that observation will actually beg the question as to whether each of them has the time to focus on the job at hand.

As for Kwasi Nyantakyi, his increasing profile at the Confederation of African Football, where he heads the Ethics Committee and is an Executive Committee member, plus his responsibilities as the GFA President will leave him with little or no time to effectively handle the Black Stars role.

It was abundantly clear, before the 2011 GFA Elections, that former GFA Vice President Fred Pappoe was doing an excellent job as the Black Stars Committee Chairman. He built solid relationships with the players and virtually acted as a social worker for the boys. That meant that whatever personal problems the players had, Pappoe had the time and the will to attempt to resolve them.

His attention to detail has also become legendary. He planned effectively for the Black Stars games and I can say without fear or favour that if Ghana qualified for two straight World Cups, Pappoe and his able lieutenants Owoahene Acheampong and Aloysius Denkabe played major roles. Camping schedules, venues and preparations were worked out to a tee and that carried the team through.

Pappoe and Acheampong in particular also acted as sounding boards for the head coaches who worked with them. I remember Acheampong telling me some time ago about how he and the then head coach Ratomir Djukovic used to bounce ideas off each other with regard to players in the team. It played a role in Ghana’s relative success at the 2006 World Cup after a rather disappointing 2006 African Nations Cup.

The likes of Claude Le Roy and Milo Rajevac also had close working relationships with Pappoe and his lieutenants and it helped to a large extent.

All this occurred because Pappoe had the time and energy to discharge his duties. After the Black Stars Management Committee was reconstituted to include the current membership, there were some who hailed the makeup of the Committee based on the business acumen of the members, but a few others also expressed concern over the fact that the members are all very busy men.

To be absolutely candid, planning for Black Stars games these days does not have the same thoroughness of the Pappoe era and indeed, because the Black Stars technical bench was also completely overhauled, current head coach Kwasi Appiah does not have anyone to bounce ideas off in discharging his duties because no member of the old regime remains.

For example, the decision to camp the Black Stars in Johannesburg ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Zambia proved to be counterproductive and I daresay Pappoe would have pushed for the team to be camped in similar temperatures in Kenya instead.

Again, no real trial matches were planned before the 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier against Malawi over the weekend and clearly it showed on the day, with the Black Stars struggling to play as a team. Again, Pappoe would have made sure that a couple of training games would have been organized.

Of course, the circumstances surrounding Pappoe’s exit from the Black Stars Management Committee and the GFA’s Emergency Committee were shrouded in controversy. Indeed, sources close to the Great Olympics strongman reveal that even though he will never publicly admit it, Pappoe felt betrayed by the turn of events because he has been very loyal to the current GFA administration and indeed, informed Kwasi Nyantakyi when certain movers and shakers approached him to consider replacing Nyantakyi.

As a result, thanks to certain inaccurate stories spread by unknown individuals, Pappoe was wrongly painted as against the GFA administration and that played a role in his exit.

Pappoe’s conduct throughout this time has been nothing short of commendable. He has maintained a dignified silence and he still remains a member of the GFA Executive Committee. He has remained an ardent supporter of the Black Stars and maintained his links with the Black Stars, albeit in an unofficial capacity.

Indeed, when broke the story that he has been nicodemously approached to return to the Black Stars management Committee, his response was immediate. Pappoe says the story is untrue, divisive and he indeed questioned the motive behind the story. I can fully understand his reaction, because he doesn’t want to be seen to be even lobbying for the position, not to mention stepping on any toes, but it is a measure of how high in esteem he is held that the approach was made and I can confirm that members of the GFA’s highest echelons were preparing to officially ask him to return to the role. Pappoe’s desire to maintain discretion at this time is admirable, but I for one would be delighted if he changes his stance and agrees to return.

The proposed move is not without challenges because after his exit, he received a well-deserved promotion at work which has significantly given him a heavier work load. That may not give him time to accept the role, but clearly the Black Stars need people of Pappoe’s ilk and whilst it is heartening to note that the GFA top brass have recognized that, the fact remains that revamping the Committee will be a major step in ensuring that the Black Stars continue the progress made over the last seven years.

Perhaps, the likes of Owoahene Acheampong and Aloysius Denkabe could be reconsidered for a return to the committee for starters, and I would back any attempt by the GFA to lure Pappoe back, even though, following his denial yesterday, that might prove to be a long shot.

In conclusion, proper planning is a major key in success in any endeavor and that is that the Black Stars need now.