My name is Emmanuel Akyereko Frimpong with a pen name El Akyereko and I’m a sports journalist of long standing having worked in the industry for close to a decade and a half.
I’ve been a newspaper writer, online reporter with Ghanasoccernet.com for 10 years and currently with Ghanasportsonline.com, been on several and television shows over the course of my job.
For what I do, I follow a lot of football matches and sit to watch community matches as well as local games on TV and league across the world.
I’ve come to realise one big danger that local football faces. Two years ago, I wrote a post about it on Facebook and the attention it generated got me to publish it on the web.
REALITY: In few years to come local football will die to competition from Europe, Americas and Asia (China). I see everytime the quantum of efforts put in by these media ambassadors like Felix Kwabena Romark, Frank Darkwah, Nuhu Adams, Muftawu Nabila Abdulai, Abigail Sena Sosu, Senyuiedzorm Awusi Adadevoh, etc. But the plain hard fact is that local football has no strong future. WHY?: Remember about 16, 17 years ago when we were growing up we found all our football heroes here. We were inspired and motivated and cheered for great names. We saw travelling fans across the length and breadth of the country. Fans were happy. Players were happy. Clubs were excelling. The motivation was truly not about money.
But today, the storylines are different. We have been opened to world football with the English Premier League leading a pack of tantalising European leagues which are telecasted weekends unend. El Clasico games get every Ghanaian kid excited. They are dying to see Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Isco, Suarez, Gareth Bale, Neymar, Sergio Ramos, Iniesta… etc. Chelsea, Manchester United, Citeh, Liverpool, Spurs, Juventus, Milan, Inter and PSG command great footballer numbers in Ghana. Local fans prefer watching these clubs from pubs and satellite TV.
I made an argument on television on how shameful it is that Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak cannot draw fans into their stadiums on matchdays. Kumasi and Accra has over 4million population each. But they can’t get just 40K of this 4million to the stadium once in every two weeks. And, that’s just 1% of the cities’ population.
So what kind of patronage is local football getting? Local Management and administration is horrible. Media, PR, Communications, Branding, Marketing and Modernity make almost no sense to football heads in Ghana.
What’s the true danger: I remember about 18 years or so ago Great Olympics player Naana Eshun was a big star and anytime he stepped in Sunyani along with Dan Oppong and Fuseini Adams they were worshipped.
As young teenagers we were driven along and automatically became Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko, AshantiGold, Dawu Youngsters, Okwahu United, Bofoakwa Tano, B.A United, RTU, etc fans. Fans travelled to watched these clubs and as young aspirants kids we chanted Bernard Don Bortey, Nana Arhin Duah, Shilla Alhassan, Shamo Quaye, Prince Polley, Wisdom Abbey, Ishmael Addo, Francis Bossman, Dan Quaye, Emmanuel Addoquaye Pappoe, Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Mohammed Baker, Tawfiq Alolo etc.
Today the coming generation knows nothing about local football. I remember one panel discussion I sat on. The host openly admitted knowing nothing about the current Kotoko squad.
If we don’t have 12-year-olds excited about local football then local football has no future. Children are the future!!!
Let’s get serious with local football else these media ambassadors are working themselves horse.
The GFA should have a responsibility. The GFA Communication Department has over the period been only heard making noise when the Black Stars are in town. That wing should make noise about the local game too. They should lead the action when media ambassadors are attacked at match centers. There should be a separate website like the Premierleague.com, Bundesliga.com, Ligue1.com, etc to focus attention on the league.
If you care about the survival of local football start getting worried.
By El Akyereko
Follow the writer on Twitter: @AkwasiAkyereko