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Sports Features of Sunday, 1 June 2014


The blueprint of Ghana football

In all organizations or in every entity there are guiding philosophies that guide their activity. In every sport it’s no different. Once in Ghana sports, our football was referred to as ‘Agor?’; this type of football was pleasing to the eye and it entertained fans that trooped to our various stadia to watch our national teams and clubs play. It was the type of football that everybody wanted to be associated with. The ‘Agor?’ football or system was characterized by possessing the ball, playing of sweet fluid passing game which helped our national teams especially the black stars win four African cup of nations trophies. Players such as Rev. Osei Kofi, Wilberforce Mfum, Edward Aggrey Fynn, Edward Acquah and Robert Mensah amongst others were some of the greats that set the pace in our football. This system was also seen in the football our clubs played; due to the fact that the national team players were recruited from the talent-laden locally based clubs. In the last decade or so, the senior high school competition has been an avenue where talents were seen and scouted. This competition produced stars like Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Harrison Afful, and Asamoah Gyan; an as a testament to how effective it was, all these players currently play in the Black Stars team. However, in recent times, the competition has not been taken seriously because it has not been well structured into our educational curricular. That laudable system has now been all but abandoned due to various reasons such as not putting in place structures to enforce this system in all quarters of our football, lack of proper monitoring system in our low tier of our football thus the colts system, lack or inadequate infrastructure, also lack or inadequate of qualified coaches to teach our young footballers the rudiments of the game. And rather unfortunately, our leaders in our football lack the WILL to adopt a particular system that will serve as a Blueprint to guide our football. To add these various problems are the appointment of expatriate coaches to handle our Black Stars. These expatriates come with all types of philosophies or system which is Alien to our kind of game we know. Most Ghanaians were almost every time sitting on tenterhooks when Milovan Rajevac was the head coach of our national team simply because he was defensive and adopted a system where only a striker was needed. The blueprint or system that most Ghanaians are craving for is not just noisemaking because there is empirical evidence to show as to countries that have adopted a particular system when their type of football was not winning them any trophy in continental competitions. These countries sought to restructure their football. Spain won its first major European trophy, in 1964 before winning it again in 2008; they had to go forty-four years without a trophy. Up to that point Spain were notorious underachievers. They never seemed to be able to perform at the big stage, even though they have always had world class players and coaching staff. They followed the 2008 European cup victory with the world cup in 2010 in South Africa and the European cup in 2012. Spain’ domination of world football is down to one fundamental factor –SYSTEM. The Spanish system looks as though flawless, nourished by home-grown talents and inculcating a positive work ethic in the indigenes, keeping foreign influences on their domestic game to a minimum and encouraging an aesthetically pleasing style of play. Spanish clubs are encouraged to operate a youth policy of Cantera which literally translates as quarry. A club’s Cantera refers to both the youth academy of a team and also the geographical area surrounding a club. The policy encourages the development of youth instead of the importation of foreign players. This means that young Spanish players are brought into the club at an early age, shown the ideals and fundamentals of the Spanish style of football before progressing to play with a supposedly Spanish club. This benefits the national side greatly as young players coming into the team are already educated and acquainted with the ideals of the Spanish style of play impacted by the country’s club sides and youth systems. It’s a flawless policy, home-grown players are brought up and nourished, they are taught to play a beautiful style of football and, essentially, the policy works for good. Clearly, the Spanish dominance in world football is it club or national side is down to their long held identity blueprint in this domain. And so, we see that Spain’s domination of world football is down to one thing-SYSTEM. Certain distinct fundamental principles and values are being consciously drilled into the minds of young Spanish footballers until it sticks to their sub-conscious and can be reproduced effortlessly. The fruits of these teachings are now indubitably evident as it epitomizes their all conquering state in World football at the moment. Three consecutive major titles have they won and subsequently seem unstoppable contemporarily. This system does not look at the aspect of teaching the ideals of the Spanish game only, but sought to educate the young footballers on how to thrive after their footballing careers. Former footballer Eric Cantona echoes similar sentiment ‘If you have only one passion in life-football- and you pursue it to the exclusion of everything else, it becomes very dangerous. When you stop doing this activity it is as though you are dying. The death of that activity is death itself’. The recent meeting at the Ghanaman Soccer Center of Excellence at Prampram by the Ghana football Association that had the presence of current Black Stars coach Dr. James Akwasi Appiah, former national team coaches Ben Koufie, Sam Arday, and A.K. Edusei as coordinators aimed at developing a national training grid with identical philosophies, methodology and application, culminating in all the national teams playing an identical brand of football. It’s a step in the right direction; however, questions needs to be asked because national teams have barely a month to camp before competitions. In order for this football identity or ideology to be realized we have to start from the grassroots or better still our premier league clubs as seen in Spain. The players that rise through the youth teams of our various premier league clubs should start learning the rudiments, the tactics and style of this football brand the Ghana Football Association is proposing. Also coaches need to be oriented thoroughly about this brand of football and ensure that any weakness to this brand of football is reduced to its minimum best to prevent our opponents from exploiting us. The GFA also needs to do their bit by rolling out a comprehensive programme if they are really committed to this style. Measures including every premier league club should have a youth side with a qualified youth coach and all the modern training facilities as well as quality formal education that will enhance the development of our young footballers to blossom to be shinning stars in the near future. Unanimously, a dichotomy reveals Ghana’s blueprint has been relegated and plays a part in our average performance over the years. However, like Spain’s we might not reap immediate results but surely and patiently in no time, we could be up there with the big guys and also be easily identified with our version of football style like other countries too: The ‘Agor?’ brand.