In the last couple of months, a lot has taken place in Ghana from football to COVID-19; from the commissioning of the National Mosque to voluntary contribution towards the building of a National Cathedral; and from the presentation of the Mid-Year Annual Budget Review to Labour unrest with University Teachers embarking on an indefinite strike. I have however decided to focus this month’s blog post on local football and to celebrate the winners of the Ghana Premier League (GPL).
Ghana is known for its exploits in football and has represented itself well at the World Cup championships in 2006 and 2010. Ghana has produced some excellent players in the past who made the local league the toast of many Ghanaians. The average Ghanaian is associated with one club or the other. It was simply football made in Ghana and a sight to behold on match days. Spectators stormed the various stadia 8-10 hours ahead of games to catch the tactical display of skills from their favourite players. The excitement and passion for local football however dwindled over time and hit bottom low when an investigative piece revealed a high level of corruption in Ghana Football. This led to the suspension of local football in Ghana for about 2 years.
The first football season after the suspension of the GPL came to an end last month with Accra Hearts of Oak being crowned Champions of both the GPL and MTN FA Cup. This is the first league trophy to be won by the club in 11 years. I must admit I was one of many who didn’t have any interest in the GPL after the scandal. But somehow, the new leadership made the efforts to win my trust back to the game and I was not disappointed. My prayer and that of many others are that clubs will not be in a hurry to sell their players to clubs outside the country.
I have since been reflecting on how football could be used to complement education or vice versa. I recall my days in basic and high schools, where there was healthy competition first at the inter-houses (school level) and inter-schools/districts/regionals. These competitions were part of the school curriculum and students were given the space to explore and develop their potentials. Some of the best sports (wo)men that Ghana produced were discovered through some of these school-level activities. It seems to me, however, that, the quest for schools to be ranked highly as churning out excellent performances in the qualifying examinations is leading to an imbalance in the development of the full potentials of the next generation of sports (wo)men in our schools. The situation appears to be worst with the onset of COVID-19. Currently, students are spending less time in school than before and this leaves very little space to explore extra-curricular activities.
Closely related to this is the development of Community Juvenile football. Again, growing up, it was a common practice to have a regular football gala among the different neighbourhoods and sometimes among different communities at regular intervals. These kinds of competition unearthed talents that became national assets. If we have to sustain the momentum that has greeted the reintroduction of the GPL, there is the need to pay attention to the development of juvenile football. As I prepare to spend time in the field conducting research in selected schools in the Central region, I have my eyes on the extracurricular activities that support the holistic development of children across basic schools in Ghana.
Till then, hearty congratulations to Accra Hearts of Oak for winning the GPL and the FA cups.