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Opinions of Sunday, 11 April 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

15TH Century Practices at Kpando Sports Stadium

I had never attended any stadium to witness a premier league match until last Sunday when I decided to go and watch the Kpando Heart of Lions when they took on Wa All Stars at the Kpando Sports Stadium. My experience in the stadium is enough reason for our backwardness in the sports industry, which is nothing but a serious business to serious minded entrepreneurs.

At the Bank Square stood a miserable notice board announcing that there would be a match between Wa All Stars and the only representative of the Volta Region in the Glo Premier League. I had to travel to Peki that morning and I got back to the stadium late, thanks to two unknown friends travelling to Afoega. Getting a vehicle from Peki Ayensu to Kpando that Sunday afternoon was more difficult than tracing the foot of the rainbow, and I would have slept there had those Good Samaritans not come to my rescue.

When I got to the stadium in a taxi that tossed me up and down, down the “rasta” road leading to the stadium, I spent some time trying to locate the “right” entrance. There were about four of them where one could buy a “ticket.” A ticket cost GH¢ 3. When I finally located where I could secure a ticket, I had to spend eternity knocking at the metal gate to attract the attention of the sellers, who were some metres away from the entrance. At this point die hard supporters of the Kpando heart of Lions and managers of the stadium may say this not true, or mine was an exceptional situation. Maybe the intention of the writer is soil the reputation of Kpando, some may say. But that is not what I call the 15th century practices. Besides, Kpando is one of my favourite towns. I celebrated the Easter there, not in Mpraeso. I have my own Kwahus when it comes to Easter. Kpando is the birth place my favourite music – borborbor. Borborbor is one music that drills pleasantly deep into my innermost being, and if there is any word crazier than crazy, then that’s what the borborbor rhythm does to the boy from Bongo.

After paying the three cedis, I expected to get my ticket. I knew what I had paid was enough to get me the kind of ticket I got free of charge to watch the Ghana-Cameroun match at the Ghana 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. At least I expected a piece of paper with some security features. Like the one my SRC printed for our trip to Afadzato. But what did I see?

It brought back childhood memories. Centuries ago. In those days when concert was concert. And Kete-Krachi was Kete-Krachi. When Okala, Nkomode, and those in their group; when the late AAA, Adofo, and those in their group used to come to Kete-Krachi to perform at Agbenyega House – the Concert House of Krachi. I never attended any of such concerts and I never dreamt of attending. That could have only been possible after denouncing Awuni Adaboro as my father. But some of my classmates attended and to prove they too were “there some” they would come to school the following Monday, grinning sheepishly. “O yes, I was there. This is my stamp.”

So I was stamped at the Kpando Sports Stadium on April 4, 2010. Too shocked at the 15th century practice, I offered my right palm before I had time to think that the thing could be poisonous, but after shaking hands with a few friends, it was all gone. The Lions won by two goals to one. I saw the penalty kick the Wa All Stars used to pull one back. It was greeted with insults, hissing and cursing from home fans. The referee and his men were biased, they chorused. One white man was very furious. I don’t know his name and I didn’t bother to ask. But if you visit Kpando without seeing him, then you’re either in Kpetoe or Vakpo, not in Kpando. He sports no hair. He’s not bald. He has a son who less than five. He too, sports no hair. In my four days in Kpando, I saw him at least three times before meeting him at the stadium. Where? At Maxi Spot. He and his son, clutching two green, sweaty bottles. Star and Sprite!

“Police, don’t protect them [the referee and lines man]. Let them [not us] beat them.” Here was a white man so passionate about the success of Kpando Heart of Lions. And so are the people of Kpando and its surrounding towns. It is our club, they would say. Some are ready to die for the club and I think this is where a small club like Kpando Heart of Lions can make some money. But for heaven’s sake how would those who stamp palms of spectators and keep the money in their itchy palms be trusted to account for the sales when there is nothing to check them? I don’t believe in pseudo psychology but I cannot trust the young men who stood at the entrance behind the match officials. Why can’t officials do something about it? Print tickets and sell to spectators? At least simple ones so they can account for it?

You’re expected to stand behind the wire mesh that separates the players on the pitch from the spectators. So if you get to the stadium late and people are standing erect along mesh they always do, you have to forget it if you’re not very tall. You could only watch the match above their heads. What about the aged who cannot stand? Or the Koti Academies?

If authorities of the Kpando Heart of Lions cannot do great things, they can do small things in a great way.

Some decent seats. Some tickets. Some monitoring systems to ensure that the little coins gathered can defray some of the operational costs of the club. Football is money and one does not have to be in the English Premier League to rake that money. Opportunities abound everywhere. What is lacking is the creative thinkers.

This is not for Kpando Heart of Lions only. I’m sure if I embarked on a tour of all the league centres, I would say Kpando Sports Stadium is like Old Trafford when compared to some of those all over the country. Anyway I enjoyed the borborbor music from the Heart of Lions Den 6 supporters group. That is the only experience I will forever miss with a pang of nostalgia when I hear the name Kpando Sports Stadium.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [www.maxighana.com] Email: azureachebe2@yahoo.com The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and Press and Information Secretary of the Northern Students’ Union (NSU). To read more of his writings, visit: www.maxighana.com