As a young boy with so much passion for football, seeing ladies play the game was always a delight, a naive boy who always thought football was a game for boys/men especially after watching my first ever FIFA World Cup tournament in 1997 when the Black Satellites went all the way to place fourth at the World youth Championship.
Then comes 1999 when I first saw the women’s game (Thus the FIFA Women’s World Cup) in the USA. As desperate as I was, the time difference between Ghana and USA could not prevent me from watching the games after realizing my country (Ghana) will be taking part. Yes!!! Ghana!!! What a great feeling it would be seeing my country participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But then wait… who are these ladies going to represent Ghana? The big question which came to mind even before the Black Queens kicked a ball at the competition.
An anxious young boy who was eager to know some of the big names to represent Ghana at the World Cup, the only option was to listen to the radio the next morning. There comes a popular voice on radio (Charles Osei Asibey) mentioning a full list of the Black Queens team to represent the country at the World Cup.
Ok so courtesy the radio presenter I now know Alberta Sackey who he described as our “poster lady” for the tournament, Patience Sackey, Memunatu Sulemana who he praised as the current best goalkeeper in Africa aside Nigeria’s Precious Dede.
Glady’s Enti, Grace Adwoa Bayor and Shilla Okine were the next big names in the Ghanaian team as mentioned by the presenter.
Yes I heard Elizabeth Baidoo, Lydia Ankrah and Genevive Clottey. Interesting names we have there, these ladies will be good, again naive thoughts going through my mind, remember I had never watched women’s football for that matter never knew Ghana had a women’s National team called the Black Queens.
Well…the name Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo never echoed in the mind of a young football fanatic who was desperate to know some of the stars in the Black Queens team prior to the tournament.
Sitting glued to the TV set to watch Ghana’s opening game against Australia, I could recount the starting XI to face the team from Oceania. Well…maybe you might doubt.
Memunatu Sulemana(GK), Regina Ansah (RB), Patience Sackey (LB), Elizabeth Baidu (CB), Lydia Ankrah (CB), Genevive Clottey (CDM), Adjoa Bayor (CM), Sheila Okai (RW), Gladys Enti (LW), Mavis Dgajmah (CAM), Alberta Sackey (FW).
An interesting line up there, then again I was eager to see how these ladies will fare, and it wasn’t a surprise to see the skipper Alberta Sackey equalize from a sumptuous free kick after the Australians had scored… Ok so the presenter was right to say Alberta Sackey was the “poster lady”.
These same squad however suffered a big humiliation when they lost 7-0 in the second group game against China, then again never saw the name Marcy Tagoe-Quarcoo in the starting line-up.
Now a certain Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo gets the chance to play in Ghana’s third and final group game against Sweden, a game the team also lost.
Fast-forward the unknown figure has eventually become a hero in her native country (Ghana), unlike her fellow female footballers, she opted to take a bold step after the World Cup in USA when she ventured in a totally male dominated area by taking up a refereeing course. Brave right? When will she shoot to the limelight and surpass some well-known persons in the profession? Can a lady of her caliber be able to stand the pressure that comes with the game as a referee? She narrates some challenging moments as a referee in Ghana.
“I remember I officiated a game between Ebusua Dwarfs and Zytuna, it was a middle League and I will never forget that moment,” she told Starr FM some months back.
“The winner for that game will stay in the League, so you can imagine how tensed that game was and unfortunately I happened to be the referee.
“The game was heading to a goalless draw and there was a tackle in the penalty box on a Dwarfs player, Gideon Baah who had just won the MTN Soccer Academy was the culprit and so I quickly pointed to the spot. Gideon rushed on me and pushed me because he was very angry looking at the time I awarded the penalty.
“Then I also gave him the red card and he went out, in fact that was a bold decision I took looking at the tension in the match and the time I took the penalty. Later the footage came out and clearly everyone saw I made the right call.
“Funny enough Gideon as at that time didn’t have my number but he managed to get my contact and called to apologize for what he did and we have been good since then.”
Of course her audacious effort yielded massive results after coming out as a fully qualified referee. To Mercy, that was just the starting point, the target was not only to officiate in Ghana but globally and it came as no surprise when she became the first Ghanaian female FIFA referee. BIG honor for a go-getting woman. Her name pops up in a list of referees to officiate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011. 12 years after making an appearance at the World stage, this time not as a player but as a center referee.
Another target achieved by the woman who had earned an appointment as an officer in the Ghana Fire Service.
What’s next for Mercy Tagoe? Coaching became another option for the meticulous woman. That wouldn’t come easy…
Once again she defied the odds after successfully completing her coaching course to become the first Ghanaian female Coach ultimately earning an offer to work as an assistant Coach for then Ghana Premier League side Amidaus Professionals. Another big achievement in the bag for Mercy. She eventually took over as head Coach at the Club after the departure of Anthony Lokko. Then the recognition started occurring. A woman coaching a male side? That was so uncommon in this part of the World.
Now the reputation she has been dreaming for has arrived when she took charge as the deputy Coach of the Black Queens working together with the experienced and 2012 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup bronze winning Coach Mas-Ud Didi Dramani. A big opportunity for Mercy to learn from a Coach who has seen it all in women’s football.
Few months as an assistant Coach for the Senior women’s National team, she gets the mandate to lead the side to the maiden edition of the WAFU Women’s Cup of Nations as an interim Coach.
There was the magic again, Yes she did it again, leading Ghana to a second major trophy so far as the Black Queens was concerned after winning the competition with the side by beating the host (Cote d” Ivoire) at the finals.
Coach Mercy Tagoe wouldn’t allow herself to be beaten for the second time by the same side having lost the opening game of the competition to the host.
“To be Frank, we have watched the Ivorian’s and we know how to come up against them, they won’t beat us this time around, we can’t allow them to defeat us for the second time in the competition,” a bold Mercy Tagoe said prior to the finals.
And yes she stood by her words never allowing Cote d’ Ivoire to defeat her side for the second time.
After a successful feat in Cote d’ Ivoire, there is no doubt Mercy Tagoe is now ripe to take full charge of the team as the substantive head Coach.
By Frank Darkwah