Guest writer, Prince Bediako, adds his voice to the list of advocates who want players to develop first before they are farmed out to teams abroadCOMMENT
By Prince Bediako
The purpose of this write-up is to stir up all football enthusiasts, coaches, sports journalists, administrators and the Football Association to get rid of the ‘quick cash mentality’ and aim at long term development of our talents, because it is Ghana that benefit in the long term.
I take a case study of two football players who began their careers in Berekum, in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. In the period between 1999 and 2003, there were two rival football clubs in Berekum - Berekum Arsenal and Pro-Sports popularly known as Onyame.
The whole town came to a standstill when these two clubs faced each other. It was such a unique thing for anyone who lives in Berekum during those encounters. At that time, Ghana right-back, John Paintsil led the tack of Berekum Arsenal while Samuel Kyere, the former Egypt-based was Pro-Sports’ leading marksman.
Along the line, Berekum Arsenal gained promotion into Premier league in 2001. Kyere joined them briefly and left
"Yes! The economy is not favourable, one needs to survive but let’s be mindful of the decisions we make...
The onus lies on the Ghana FA, club owners and footballer administrators alike to help put a stop to this development and think about the future of the players "
He couldn’t ignore that offer and went in for the quick cash. On the other hand, Paintsil stayed and later joined Liberty Professionals. At the time he left the shores of Ghana, he was ‘ready’- he had developed his skills physically and mentally more than Kyere.
After about 10 years, the result is glaring for all to see and analyse. I don’t know what happened to Kyere in north Africa but as of the time I was putting this piece together, he’s been back to Berekum, captained Berekum Chelsea for a while and gone back to the wilderness again. But anybody who knew him then will unequivocally agree with me that he hasn’t played even up to 50% of his full potential.
Considering his age now (29), there is nothing bigger to expect.
Paintsil, on the other hand, is a household name in Ghana today. He’s been to the World Cup twice, excelled at the Under-20 WC, been to five Africa Cup of Nations and still counting, not forgetting some sweet-and-bitter experiences in England.
Comparing achievements and exposure, the two are worlds apart. These achievements are not just by chance or mere luck. Paintsil has had his own challenges while playing in Europe, but someway somehow, he has survived and still playing at the age of 31. I have no doubt, that had Kyere played up to even 80% of his potential, team Ghana would have immensely benefited from his talent.
To anybody who has followed the game for some time now, this is no news. This is not the first of such an incident to happen in Ghana, and neither will it be the last. There are numerous cases where football talents have left the shores of Ghana at very young ages in pursuit of money and many years later come home empty-handed.
Yes! The economy is not favourable, one needs to survive but let’s be mindful of the decisions we make. I am not a sports journalist, neither am I a football administrator. Just like any Ghanaian, I love the beautiful game and I happen to be there when these two players were developing. Argumentative and superstitious as we are as a country, we talk a lot, we propose a lot, but most of these proposals and plans are kept in pipe-lines for decades and never implemented.
The onus lies on the Ghana FA, club owners and footballer administrators alike to help put a stop to this development and think about the future of the players and Ghana football at large.
Player agents and journalists must not be left out of the equation.
I am not seeking to put the blame on anybody, but I honestly think it’s our collective responsibility as a country, and it is about time we talk less and WALK THE TALK.
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