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Soccer News of Friday, 21 September 2001

Source: ROOTS SPORTS, BY RANSFORD ANTWI

Interview With Kwesi "Powerhouse" Owusu

For over ten (10) solid years, he put soccer talent at the disposal of his motherland. As one of the most hardworking and above all, most gifted goal scorers ever to emerge from the Ghanaian scene, root sports is privileged to talk to the onetime “POWER HOUSE” of Ghana soccer.

Roots Sports: Great to have you here, Mr Kwasi Owusu. How’s the going?

Kwasi Owusu: Oh! By his grace, everything’s normal. By the way, how did you know I prefer being called Mr Kwasi Owusu, instead of the usual raw mentioning of names without a title? You know, I get so excited when someone calls me Mr. Thanks very much for making my day, you will be a great man in future.

Roots Sports: Ha ha ha, thanks too. Now, back to our discussions.

Roots Sports: You came from Kintampo to play for Tano Bofoakwa, eventhough there was another club in Sunyani namely , B/A United, why Bofo?

Kwasi Owusu: Somewhere in 1965, I was featuring for Yara Stars of Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Region. In the course of the year, there were too friendly matches, involving a select side made up of players of Yara Stars and Nkoranzaman Stars, as against the two glamorous clubs from Sunyani, B/A United and Bofo. In the first match, we played against B/A United and lost 1-2. In fact I scored the consolation goal for my side. After our second match against Bofo, they asked me to join them in Sunyani, which I felt was a big honour so I quickly obliged. Fortunately, I adjusted so well into the Bofoakwa set-up and after featuring six times for them, I was invited to the Black Stars.

Roots Sports: So you joined the National Team in your first season with Bofoakwa? Which year was that?

Kwasi Owusu: Yes, and this was after featuring in six matches for Bofo, that was in 1966.

Roots Sports: You said earlier that adjusting into the Bofoakwa set-up was not a problem, but what about the Black Stars. Was it that easy?

Kwasi Owusu: It was indeed a great honour to have been invited to the black Stars, and I went there with a lot of determination to do my club and region proud. On the other hand, the players in camp then, especially, the likes of Agyeman Gyau, Osei Kofi, Mfum, Frank Odoi, and Ben Kusi were very accommodating. Mfum in particular, would always encourage me and was always there for me. In fact, he made feel so much at home and I’ll always remain grateful to him.

Roots Sports: what is the most cherished moment(s) in your illustrious soccer career?

Kwasi Owusu: This is a difficult question. I recall with nostalgia Ghana’s Cup of Nations clash against Congo Kinshasa in 1970 in Sudan. It was a very difficult encounter, as Congo- Kinshasa was a highly regarded side in the Continent, as far as football was concerned. In the end, Ghana won the encounter 2-0 and I scored all the two goals. Other moments of extreme joy were Ghana’s two-legged Cup of Nations qualifier against Niger. In the first leg here in Accra, Ghana won by 6-0 and I scored five (5) of the six goals. In the second leg in Niamey, we beat them 9-1 and this time too, I scored four (4) goals. I must say that anytime I scored a goal for the Black Stars was very special for me.

Roots Sports: Any moment you’d want to forget?

Kwasi Owusu: Not really, but the day Okala of Nigeria slapped me in the face is one moment I really would want to forget.

Roots Sports: Why did Okala slap you and how come you did not retaliate? Did you fear him?

Kwasi Owusu: Ha ha ha (laughs): I think he slapped me because I was always a thorn in his flesh and that, whenever he was in post for a Ghana-Nigeria encounter, I’d end up with at least a goal. To the second question, I did not retaliate because that was not my style, not that I feared him. I was more interested in my goals than anything else. But let me tell you something interesting. Just after that match against Nigeria, we returned to our camping place at Legon, and the University Students, having heard on radio that Okala had hit me in the face were planning to attack the Nigeria goalie. However, they were all shocked to learn that I had invited Okala for Dinner, which the latter had accepted. We ate together and he later apologised for his unsporting behaviour, which I accepted in good faith. Indeed this gesture prompted the leader of the Nigerian delegation, whose name I cannot easily recollect, to dash me a twenty Naira cash.

Roots Sports: You’ve been following Ghana soccer for sometime now. How do you see the current state of affairs?

Kwasi Owusu: Ghana soccer is dying a painful death and unless all of us (I mean all those who love the sport) work hard and in unison to save Ghana Soccer, I’m afraid the worst is yet to come. Currently, Ghana is short of talent and the few talented ones are not disciplined and only play for the money, this must be a cause for concern. If one makes a comparison with the current breed of stars, whose love for money is unprecedented, as against our days with extremely talented individuals like Osei Kofi, Mfum, Agyemang Gyau, Dan Owusu, George Alhassan, Ben Kuofie, Ben Kusi, among others, who combined talent with discipline and patriotism, then one would notice the difference.

Roots Sports: So you think the Players’ love for money has contributed to the fallen standard of soccer in Ghana?

Kwasi Owusu: To a greater extent yes. Apart From their love for money, the players do not take time to work hard and to learn from their coaches. The irony however, is that these days, the boys have access to modern techniques and facilities, as far as training is concerned. In our days, training was all about running and stretches, but we still played well.

Roots Sports: At the moment, you’re a lotto agent and a coach as well. How do you combine the two?

Kwasi Owusu: Well, for sometime now, I’ve been earning a living by working as a lotto agent. With this, I earn about ?250,000.00 (two hundred and fifty thousand cedis a month) and that makes me better-off than most of my colleagues who cannot even get food to eat. Now, I’m the coach of Bofoakwa Tano, something I do without any monetary considerations, not even allowance.

Roots Sports: Now to the question that has been bothering my mind for so long a time. Why is it that most of the old players have ended up as beggars and destitutes?

Kwasi Owusu: Well I know some of you may think that we did not plan for our rainy days. That’s true to some extent but it’s important to note that there was no money in our days. Those days, there was no transfer fee; neither were there any enticement fees. Our allowance for playing for the National Team (the black stars) was ?7 (seven cedis) and one National Striker is alleged to have been transferred for Fufu and chicken soup. I was fortunate to have bought an Estate House from my meagre allowances from playing for the Black Stars at four thousand six hundred cedis. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had not bought that house.

Roots Sports: In your opinion, what should the FA and soccer administrators do to help Ghana reclaim its past glories?

Kwasi Owusu: Well, Ben Kuofie’s FA has drawn up a five year development programme, and it’s my hope that all will contribute to make it workable. With the National Team, I think we should go back to rekindle the once popular friendly games with neighbouring countries, such as Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Togo, which in our days introduced most players to international soccer. We can use these games to get a very strong local Black stars who’ll play with a lot of cohesion. In short, all I want is that we need to engage in more friendlies and must begin to have confidence in our local stars.

Roots Sports: What is your last message Ghanaians?

Kwasi Owusu: My simple message is that we did our best for Ghana in our days and hope every individual would do same when given the chance. However, once we’re still alive I think we still have something to offer our motherland, and should be encouraged.


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