You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2015 11 04Article 392009

Opinions of Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Columnist: Nana Ampomah

Nation first, that is the essential clarion call!

Let me doff my hat off and say kudos to Osagyefo Oseadeayo Agyeman Badu II, the Omanhene of the Dormaa Traditional Area in Brong Ahafo for his timely admonition to all sportsmen and women in this country to develop the spirit of nationalism and put the nation first in their entire endeavour.

In his keynote address at last Friday's Premier League Board (PLB) Awards Night held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra, the King urged the Ministry of Youth and Sports to live up to its primary responsibility to re-orientate our sportsmen and sports women to appreciate the significance of appearing in national colors at international competitions and seeking first the nation's monumental image and holding in high esteem the respect built in the past at continental and global levels.

Indeed, this must take the lead in their thoughts as they compete before any advocacy for all type of remuneration or bonuses which will automatically come as a matter of convenience.

The well learned Aduana Stars bankroller called on the Ministry to develop a handbook to serve as a guide for various disciplines, spelling out their responsibility towards the nation as well as the need for accountability and transparency as measures towards their improvement. The handbook must provide the various federations a clear indication of government's developmental priorities in sports.

Clearly, the King of the Aduana Clan as a traditional leader and an ardent sports fan and club manager is very much alive at the trend and the visible backsliding of the nation in our sporting development.

In fact, he is very much aware of the extent at which the subject of money in modern times is driving away our normal sense of patriotism, as against the love of our nation. That, for sure is in abeyance to what we had in the past, and the danger we are heading to if nothing is done to check the trend.

It must be noted that in a matter of 25 years after independence, at a time people were not so much money conscious, the nation chalked four successes at the continental level and won four African Cup of Nations trophies.

Unfortunately, after what turned out to be a bonanza for professionalism, the love for money by out soccer stars continue to turn our success story into a mirage, and for 33 years the boat has been rocked to the amazement of many football and sports enthusiasts across the continent and, of course, that was what the love for money could turn out to be.

The Dormaahene, as a nation builder, must be a worried man for that lack of patriotic zeal, which we even had as far as the colonial days when we saw our men and women marching chest out to win enviable medals at Commonwealth Games in places like Vancouver in Canada and Brisbane in Australia.

Even then, most of our athletes were produced from training colleges and secondary schools. We can easily recall the days of Adjin-Tetteys, E.C. Nyarkos, Edwin Tenges, Willie Kwartengs in the track and field sports, as well as footballers like the late C.K. Gyamfi, Tim Darbah, Asebi Boakye, James Adjei, Lamptey Mills, Ananti Ankrah, Baba Yara, Mohammed Salisu, Tabil Quansah, E.C. Briandt, Kwaku Dua, unbeatable goalkeeper Duncan, popularly known as Gold Coast Pillar, and others who made the nation proud without demanding any monetary rewards. Can you imagine that they were running bare footed!

Even not quite long ago, we could recollect the patriotism displayed by such athletes as Ignatius Gaisah, the long jumper of high repute, Margaret Simpson, the heptathlete, Aziz Zakari, the sprinter and others coming down from America and other places to compete for medals, adding to the great image of the nation and asking for only reimbursement of their plane tickets with the authorities arguing as if they had not been of any service to the nation. Well, should we look on at such treatment and just say thank you for your effort?

Will such athletes not rebel against their beloved motherland and join other national athletes somewhere and win medals for them? Is it any wonder that we lose our national pride and bemoan our failures under such circumstances?

The Oseadeayo has been have following such trends and the recent failures at African and Commonwealth Games must gingered him to caution the land, noting that in football which is the passion of the people, clubs are unduly suffering from huge losses and looking at the payment made on the playing body, technical handlers, staff, management and other auxiliary workers to help run clubs, time is catching up on club owners pronouncing their tiredness and retirement.

It is becoming financially catastrophic to run a club no matter the division it finds itself.

He rightly said the Ministry of Youth and Sports must liaise with the GFA and GHALCA to argue for tax exemption to help the finances of the clubs who presently pay high levies for hiring and maintenance of sports facilities.

Please, it is when such concerns are properly addressed that we can close our ranks as a nation and possibly return to those days when we were the envy of our fellow Africans and members of the Commonwealth.

Talking about sponsorship, the Omanhane directed the nation's attention to the annual $3,000,000 granted to the Black Stars by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and asked if it would not help to give a little percentage to the other junior national teams who nurtured the youth to stardom to augment the Stars in future.

This is one area a serious thought must be given and many of us wished that colts football would find its way back into the system and provide the entertainment we enjoyed while improving on our game.

Perhaps, there are times that high royals of the land must be made to use their good offices to address the nation, knowing that they occupy their positions as higher nationalists even above our politics. We must respect their views.