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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Columnist: Aboagye, Abdulai

Lessons For Black Stars Qualification

The feat attained by the wonderful Black Stars of Ghana at the 2006 world cup has arroused such an unprecedented sense of nationalism and unity among Ghanaians. While some took to the streets, others found the drinking spots as the right place to celebrate the good news. Yet others went on their knees and thank God for the wonderful things he has done for Black Stars, Ghana and Africa. Indeed nobody before the start of the World cup gave Ghana any dog chance to advance to the next stage of the competition. The mere mention of Italy or Czech Republic sent shock waves through the spines of many Ghanaians, home and abroad.

However, as things went , the Black Stars have shown that with dedication, hard work and determination nothing is unachievable. As a nation while we celebrate the magnificent achievement of our Stars, we should also ponder a while and ask ourselves if there any lessons that can be learnt from this feat, in our our quest to transform our nation into a secure developed democratic nation. Personally I believe that the achievements of the Black stars teach as the following lessons.

1. REFUSING TO BE TAGGED- Before the commencement of the World cup the Black Stars were ranked as number 48 on Fifa world rankings. We had the lowest ranking in our group. In fact, the two teams we beat- Czech Republic and USA were ranked 2nd and fifth respectively by Fifa. Howeve,r when our gallant boys entered the game they did not let this bother them. They palyed their game and suprised the the world. One American commmentator remarked " the Czechs underated the Ghanaians and they learnt the hard way and today America has also learnt the hard way."

Similarly in the scheme of world economic rankings we are tagged as a third world, HIPC etc. country. If we will take a cue from the achievements of the Black Stars, we could turn our country into a secure develop oasis in Africa irrespective of what tag the international community has put on us. It just so sad that we are very glad in accepting such tags because it helps as get pittance from the so-called developmnet partners.

2. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY- When Black Stars lost to Italy in the opening match, Osei Kuffour came out and apologised for the mistake he made which led to the second goal. He saw that by that mistake he has let his family, his nation and Africa down. As I read that news I was filled with goose pimples. To me it signalled a person willing to admit personal responsibility over his failures. As a nation we can learn a big lesson fom Kuffours action. It is very rare in Ghana to see people admitting their own mistakes even when it is so obvious. Most of our leaders- chiefs, politicians, teachers, pastors etc are more interested in playing the blame game. It is very easy to blame other people but it takes a man's man admit his mistakes like Osei Kuffour did. The sooner we learn to admit our mistakes the better it will be for us as nation.

3. TAKING BOLD DECISIONS- One of the biggest part of the Black Stars success was the coach's bold decisions. From player selection to his decision to drop some old guards, many people chastised his sense of judgement. Yet the coach stood his grounds and the result has been amazing. I wish that our leaders and policy makers will take a cue from Coach Doya. Part of leadership is to make bold decisions irrespective of how painful they may be. It is about time Ghana had leaders who can take take painful but bold decisions that can lead us out of our economic woes. Big slogans and rhetorics of little results should give way to pragmatic ideas bourne out of common sense.

4. USING EXPERT KNOWLEDGE-. After the CAN 2006 the coach was quick to request three local coaches to spy on the opponents. In effect Coaches Arday, Attuquafio and Sackey were employed to do the spying job. I believe that part of the reasons why the Black Stars qualified was because of the good job these excellent spies did.This teaches us that sometimes we should put aside partisan differences and engage anybody who can do the job well even if he or she does not belong to our party. We should all realize that we all have a common goal and that is the development of Ghana. We should therefore put national interest above petty personal and partisan interest which have no room in Ghana's development.

5. MAKING GOOD USE OF FOREIGN AID- When the Black Stars were playing the Czechs, Stephen Appiah is reported to have asked one player why a lot of non- Ghanaians were cheering Ghana on. The other player replied that it is because 'we are doing well'. This inspired Stephen Appiah a lot. Taken on another level this incident represents the donor inflows that Ghana receive. Be it loans, HIPC money , MCA, Debt cancellation etc, they are all intended to cheer us on to achieve our economic goals. Therefore, like Stephen Appiah we should make good use of these donor support to beat the economic Czechs. If we squander them just us we have done over the years we will have ourselves to blame. A day may come that we may not have them to support us or better still we should not expect to be supported by other people all the time. The development of Ghana is the sole responsibilty of Ghanaians and that any help we get from other people should be seen as a manna which may not fall everday.

5. PATROITISM- After our game with the Czechs all the players interviewed said that they saw themselves as representing Ghana and Africa. To them their only motivation is to ensure that the African flag flies high at the world cup. While one may argue that there are mouth watering monetary rewards for the stars, one will also admit that to some of the players the monies offered by government were nothing compared to what they earn. Micheal Essien for example, is reported to earn about # 75000 a week in Chelsea. Yet he put it aside to play for Ghana. It is a big lesson to most of us. While it is true that we are woefully underpaid, we should sometimes have the nation and the people we serve at heart. We should all realize that a strike happy nation does not attract investors and enterpreneurs. I am not in anyway trying to condemn anybody's with legitimate reasons to go on strike , but I believe that some of this politically motivated strikes kill the economy. Equally our policy makers who wait untill a strike action before they act should stop. It is about time Ghanaian leaders acted proactively instead of always acting reactively. Also for those of us who are quick to join the foreign bandwagon, I think it is about time we found ways to help the suffering people back home.

6. ACCEPTING CRITICISMS- When Italy beat us, Essien is reported to have told the strikers to pull their weight just us the midfielders are also pulling theirs. Asamoah Gyan and his colleagues upfront took that as a challenge and the result was the amazing goal Gyan scored in our subsequent match with the Czechs. How many times do we see our leaders accepting constructive criticisms and acting on it?. Most often we see such criticisms as an idictment of our personality. Hopefully the attitude of our boys has thought us a lesson. Every person believes that whatever he or she is doing is right. It takes the observer to point out some of our mistakes. And when our mistakes have been pointed out we should accept it in good faith and act to correct them. It is quite sad that in Ghana every new government try the officials of the old governmrnt for corruption. Yet no government has ever acted on the corruption within it's own government. Let someone point out the the corruption in the government and he or she will be branded all sorts of names. If we really want to move forward as a country then we should be ready to accept constructive criticisms.

7. GIVE US SOMETHING TO RALLY ARROUND- The world cup has shown us that Ghanaians can put out aside all differences and rally around a common cause. Just as the world cup has brought up the enthusiasm in the average pessimistic Ghanaian, I pray that our leaders will take a leave from this this world cup and come up with causes that most Ghanaians will rally around. There many more lessons to be learnt from the wonderful achievemnt of our dearBlack Stars . I hope that these points enumerated above will ginger a healthy public discourse. If we as a nation can translate the feat of the Stars into our socio- economic life, Ghana will take it's rightful place in the dinner of nations.



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