Unsurprisingly, Kumasi Asante Kotoko lost an away game in Sudan to Al-Hilal in the CAF Confederations Cup over the weekend. The lone goal conceded in the first half ended up as the difference maker in the game that puts Kotoko in a must win situation at home against Zambia’s ZESCO United.
Since Kotoko is Ghana’s sole representative at the continental level, support for the Kumasi-based team almost has a national touch to it to the extent of overshadowing the real national assignment for Ghana. The nation’s Under 20 Male side is in Niger and has won its opening game with a 2-0 win Burkina Faso.
Like Kotoko, Medeama Football Club bore the heavy hopes of a continental title hungry football nation as the sole representative in the Confed Cup a few years ago. However, the team faded away in the latter and crucial stages ultimately exiting the competition with the semifinals in plain sight. One issue the Tarkwa based side kept hammering as it toiled through mass coverage of Africa was a chronic injection of cash which unfortunately fell on deaf ears.
Once this season is over, clubs from Ghana will get support from the government following an official statement from the Sports Minister recently. A package worth $200,000 and $150,000 to the Champions League and Confed Cup reps respectively will be handed over by the government to ease the enormous financial burden on participating teams.
The intentions of the President Nana Akufo-Addo led government are clearly good but it must be noted such support is ill advised and pushed to the wrong sport. For starters, Ghanaian clubs go into such international competitions not to fight for titles but to sell players. Such agendas are first on the list of needs and wants of clubs to render government’s support misplaced. Why pump in money into a course that has a very limited ceiling with a skewed direction?
It is true Ghanaian clubs are hard pressed for cash and need all the support they can get and despite incessant calls from the corporate world, little has come from that end. This is down to teams’ failure in proper accountability of funds when they do get them. Teams spend more money on winning “spiritually” or through “juju” in the local parlance than spending traceable money on realistic and structured ways of seeing out wins.
Case in point, Kotoko’s trip to Sudan ended in a loss but that defeat had a spiritual touch to it at least in the eyes of Kotoko Operations Manager, Perusha. In an interview with Kumasi based Light FM, he said, “We found out we were going to concede four goals so we also worked spiritually and were expecting to score one. When the two shots struck the post, I knew that was our goal”. So this is the kind of project the government plans to spend tax money on? Avoiding such a charade is the best solution quite simply.
As bad as football in Ghana is following ripples of the Number 12 documentary, football is too big for a combined sum of $350,000 even if clubs are in ruby red in finances. Making such a move is ultimately geared towards gaining positive mileage with the populace a year prior to general elections. With the upcoming edition of the continental competition set to commence late in 2019, the government has a big chance to make major inroads in its campaign by riding on the goodwill of the support and the benefits of such support should teams from Ghana excel.
However, such meager amounts are likely to disappear in the deep ocean of football with little effect. This situation could have been prevented if the government had channeled such support to another course say building a basketball gymnasium in Accra. The average cost of fitting a polished wooden surface for basketball is $70,700 and fitting the playing surface out with a roof and drainage system closes in on $100,000.
Adding seats, lights and other components doesn’t scratch the $200,000 mark and should be easily gobbled up by what government plans to hand over to football that has been given a lot of help over the years but has heavily underachieved. Putting up such an edifice creates the platform for other related disciplines like volley ball and netball to be housed under one roof.
This would be real proof of the government’s verbal commitment to develop sports and not just football rehashed for long stretches it has become a tag line. $350,000 isn’t a lot of money in sports especially football in Ghana but a whole lot of disciplines on the brink of major breakthroughs are in desperate need of it and government must do well to steer such support their way.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter