One of the plaudits for the Kurt Okraku-led Ghana Football Association (GFA) is the Access Bank sponsorship they secured for the Division One League. It may not have been big but from point zero to US$250,000 a year, that was quite a leap.
Access Bank was to offer overdrafts and loan facilities to the Division One clubs as part of the agreement. Access Bank needed to be lauded for opening its door to the GFA when they knocked. The relationship between the GFA and Access Bank seems to have gone well. Access Bank’s support of the Division One League has been productive.
This may be elementary, but it must be stated that winners in the various zones of the Division One League now receive trophies and medals and that has handed the league prestige in the eyes of participating teams and fans who passionately follow it. Violence permeates every level of Ghana football, but zone one of the Division One League appeared to be the harbinger of dastard violence.
The GFA’s decision to split that zone into two has, however, reduced hooliganism there. These pluses have all added to the joy fans have had in the league. Weeks ago, Kpando Heart of Lions were crowned champions of zone three closing their nine-year wait to be admitted into the Ghana Premier League.
Then the new kid on the block in zone two, Nations FC, grabbed news headlines too. They triumphed over Skyy FC in a protest giving them not only boardroom points but the extra impetus to finish their games in grand style to book their GPL ticket. On Tuesday, domestic football enthusiasts had their eyes on the zone one playoff between 11 Wonders and Bofoakwa Tano at the Accra Sports Stadium.
What a game it was as it ended 1-1 after extra time. Bofoakwa clinched an enthralling 7-6 victory on penalties ending their 16-year long wait to taste premiership football. The clamour for Bofoakwa’s win was intense given their traditional support base, the fact that they’ve been away for a long time and perhaps most importantly how they’ve packaged themselves on social media. They’ve been engaging.
Qualification for the GPL may be thrilling but standards in both competitions differ. Kotoku Royals showed how unprepared they were for the GPL as they couldn’t host a game at home after their triumphant GPL entry. How they qualified, yet their home venue remained unsuitable for matches for most part of the season raises questions of their management – questions may not of ask of the new entrants. However, they’re all entreated to be ready for the GPL on all levels for more thrills next season.