Black Stars, our Black Stars

From albums, astronomy, bands, companies and brands, films and television, literature, military, music, songs, sports and one or two others, the name Black Star can be found.

In sports, Black Stars Basel is a soccer team playing in Switzerland’s fourth tier and Black Stars is the senior national team of Ghana. And the main focus of most Ghanaians today is our Blacks Stars.

One may not be wrong in saying that this current squad is the lowest performing national team we have had in recent years. The name Black Stars is an iconic name in this country, with our national symbol gloriously called the Black Star.

Our senior national male team is the soul of the nation and indeed so much money is invested in the team by governments, current and past. Millions of dollars go into the preparation and participation of the team than into all other sports put together.

During the golden era of sports in the seventies, when track and field, boxing, field hockey, basketball and volleyball were also the leading sports in this country, we had international stars like Alice Anum, Hannah Afriyie, Andrew Owusu, George Daniels, Ohene Karikari and the great old Azumah Nelson whose names were household names.

That was the era when the Black Stars won the African trophy for the third time. And we did that with local based players, as before, and managed by a local coach, OssamDuodu, as was the case of the 1963 and 1965 victories, both handled by C.K. Gyamfi.

The last time we won the African trophy was in 1982 and we did that with only two of out of the twenty-two players, as foreign based players. Emmanuel Quarshie, the Captain, was a Zamalek player and George Alhassan played for Gabon’s FC 105. Our fourth victory in 1982 was managed by C.K. Gyamfi.

In the history of Afcon, Ghana has been in the final nine times and won four.

Since 1982, forty years on, we have been in the wilderness of soccer trophy. Will this year be the end of our search for glory in the wilderness? With the current squad who seem to lack the hunger for goals and managed by a coach who adopts the one-goal-project approach to games, Ghanaians are fast losing hope in Afcon 2022, most people have doubts.

Are these the best set of players we can assemble? Or do we still have problems with coaches? For one thing, I personally do not understand why the GFA should have opt for coach Milovan Rajevacagain. Apart from the one-goal-project which is his hall mark, he showed clearly on camera that his heart was not with our national team. During FIFA World Cup 2010, when Ghana scored a goal against Serbia, the coach’s home country, he snubbed assistant coach Kwesi Appiah when the Ghanaian extended open arms to him in rejoicing.

That is just by the way. The fact is that lots of millions of dollars are invested into the senior national team to the detriment of other sports and yet the Black Stars have brought home nothing since 1982. It is as if the very survival of Ghana depends on the Black Stars so as soon as the team is going into any match, we feverishly have to locate hard currency to sort the players and management out. Unfortunately, other sports are not given that attention. Our senior volleyball squad just needed funds to travel to North Africa for African Championships which could possibly earn them a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games, but they were turned down.

In my opinion, with sports becoming large income earnings for players the world all over, we need to pay attention to all the sports, especially the major ones, like track and field, swimming, boxing, soccer, volleyball, basketball, field hockey and tennis. The first three can earn us lots of medals in Olympic Games if our sportsmen and women become world beaters.

Can we bring back the spirit of the Seventies, when we had National Sports Festivals? It was in such festivals that new gems were unearth, like George Osei from the then Brong Ahafo region who dislodged the likes of Adom Power in the long distances. In boxing a legend was born, when a hitherto smallish man, rejected by his home region Greater Accra but accepted by the Ghana Prisons, went ahead and demolished all opponents in his way to win the featherweight gold medal and proceeded to win gold in both the 1978 All-African Games and the 1978 Commonwealth Games. He went on to top the world in professional boxing; he is our one and only Azumah Nelson.

To cure our soccer disease, we need to rebuild our local leagues and while at it we should organise another league for our women. We need to have a strong local league like we used to where every game is worth watching.

These days if you want to have a good siesta on a Sunday afternoon, go to any sports stadium featuring a premier league match, pay for a seat and just take a restful nap.

The GFA must introduce income generating programmes for all teams so that the players get paid and paid well. True professionalism must be introduced into all sports, including soccer.

These days players shine and are immediately sold to foreign clubs and that is the last we hear of them. In 2019, Asante Kotoko introduced a 16-year-old whiz kid, Matthew Anim Cudjoe and by 2020 he was to be sold to Bayern Munich but he has ended up in Scotland with Dundee United, subject to international clearance upon approval of visa application. Anim Cudjoe should have been in the 2022 Black Stars’ squad, why do we rush to sell out our rough uncut gems?

If we want to improve the lives of our youths, we must start with sports.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here