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Black Stars GNPC cash: Present problem-solver or Future building block?

Tuesday 25th April , 2017 3:48 pm
Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah
Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah

Citi Sports editor Nathan Quao is asking why the sponsorship from GNPC to the Black Stars is only used to pay the head coach of the Black Stars and why it cannot be used to stimulate the growth and development of sports in Ghana.

Handlers of the national team must have been worried when they heard that the Majority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, strongly hinting that the yearly cash support amounting to USD 3 million from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation should end and be directed towards more profitable ventures.

I am very sure they asked themselves how they were going to pay the salary of new Black Stars head coach, Kwesi Appiah. All USD 35,000 of it, if you choose to believe the rumours.

For Hon. Mensah-Bonsu and his colleagues on the Energy and Mines Committee, the lack of transparency and a clear trail of expenditure aside from the payment of the national team coach’s salary was enough grounds to urge or strongly advise GNPC to keep their cash and use it to find more oil and make a lot more money for Ghana.

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Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu

However, the Sports Minister, Hon. Isaac Asiamah, said on Monday that the sponsorship would continue but there was a new twist.

The Ministry would now take hold of the sponsorship funds, use it appropriately (on other sports), and provide the needed clarification on the expenditure.

Personally, I think that GNPC should stick with the Black Stars and top marks to the Minister for getting the entity to stay while making Hon. Mensah-Bonsu and the other law makers happy by stating the bit on accountability.

But now that that little battle has ended, I ask myself what happens next?

What should be really be done with the money from GNPC? Is it only good for playing salaries of the Black Stars coach?

What about the next generation of sportsmen and women?

Do they not deserve money to help them move from budding talent to world beaters?

I think they do and that is what the GFA, the GNPC and the Sports Ministry should be thinking about.

The GFA lies at the heart of the development of which I speak.

It is the mandated body for the running of football in Ghana and it must be at the heart of developing footballers for the national teams.

But that has not happened enough.

Kwesi Nyantakyi, President of the Ghana Football Association at the African Football Summit in Accra, Ghana ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Kwesi Nyantakyi, President of the Ghana Football Association at the African Football Summit in Accra, Ghana ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Instead, the FA, which is a limited liability company and generates its own money, looks out for  government support for the payment of bonuses of players, budgets for tournaments and other related events.

Meanwhile, Ghana does not have a national football academy and policies directed at defining our football philosophy and developing the next batch of superstars and we believe we can get to the top of the football tree?

That is not clearly not the best way to go especially when we say we are country that loves football and sports in general.

Whenever other countries are mentioned as examples, I often hear the chorus “they are too advanced, their context is too different and they have more money” but how can we make the upward jump when we do not learn the principles that have given others success?

China’s recent intrusion into football’s privileged place of the rich boys is not by accident.

The Chinese FA and the Chinese government have joined hands to build their football via a 50-point plan which will ultimately end in hosting the World Cup one day.

They even have dreams of winning the tournament. It raises your eyebrows, does it not?

Mali’s steady growth in football is down to a conscious effort by their football federation to groom the next generation of footballers.

They got to the final of the 2015 U-17 World Cup and were third in the 2015 U-20 World. These feats were not by chance.

The Salif Keita National Academy and other academies like the Majestic SC Academy in Bamako have been producing players who will be the next generation of Malian superstars.

One of such players is Lille’s Yves Bissouma. He played for Mali in the 2017 AFCON and I am sure a lot of Ghanaians noticed him.

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Yves Bissouma (in yellow jersey) in action during the 2017 AFCON against Uganda

He played for AS Real Bamako and featured in the 2016 CHAN. His skills were good enough to send him directly to France.  He was baked in Mali and he is making it. Why can we not do same?

Let me even extend my argument to other sports like athletics for instance.

Ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, Great Britain invested 543 million pounds in athletics via a fusion of efforts from their Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the National Lottery.

The result? 132 medals across two Olympic Games (2012 and 2016)

Another example is Anthony Joshua.

Former Olympic champion Anthony Joshua is unbeaten in 17 professional fights (Image credit: Getty Images)

Former Olympic champion Anthony Joshua is unbeaten in 17 professional fights (Image credit: Getty Images)

He fights against Wladimir Klitschko in London on Saturday as a professional heavyweight but his amateur days were supported by a 40 million-pound investment from UK Sports.

That move has given the UK 8 medals (including 4 gold medals) in Olympic boxing since 2012.

We may not have huge millions like the British and the Chinese but if GNPC has USD 3 million to give every year, we should start using the little we can get from that allocation to build the future winners and champions.

Rome was not built in a day but the workers did not forget to lay the bricks one at a time.

We have our bricks lying before us.

The time to build is now.

 

 

 

Follow Nathan Quao on Twitter: @nathan_quao

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