I’ve observed how some of us, particularly on social media platforms, despise small beginnings in our football. Our clubs lack basic training facilities, including washrooms and gymnasiums. And, for reasons often difficult to comprehend, when the Ghana Football Association (GFA) role out policies to lessen the burdens of our clubs or sign sponsorship deals, we’re quick to mock it.
When clubs sign partnership deals worth GH₵1million a year, we hail it as phenomenal, but when the GFA strikes similar arrangements, say, US$ 2 million, we deride it. Clubs that pay players meagre salaries (some don’t even pay), clubs that can’t purchase boots and footballs; these entities receive essential logistical support, and our immediate reaction is disdain. It isn’t delightful. It’s unsettling.
It speaks to a lack of understanding of the problems our clubs face, including the so-called big ones. There’s a need for the media to help bridge the information or knowledge gap. It’s why I find it irresponsible when sections of the media join the derision campaign instead of shedding light on issues for fans to have a better appreciation of the situation of our clubs.
As I reflected on the GFA’s President’s address at Congress on Tuesday, these were my area of interest. The GFA is to sign a US$250,000 sponsorship deal with Access Bank for the Division One League; Ghana Premier League and Division One League clubs are to have boots and footballs, with the Women’s League clubs also receiving footballs – all from the GFA, and we can’t see this as progressive no matter how basic they seem?
The cynicism with which fans greet everything GFA, I believe, stems from the image battering the GFA suffered pre and post #12. Facts must, however, be filtered from fiction and positives from negatives. What’s good for the game should be seen and praised. The offers by the GFA are basic, yet if clubs can’t procure this basic stuff for reasons of financial constraints, we should understand the GFA’s aid.
I’m encouraging everyone to make out good and give credit where necessary. The FA should stay on this progressive path and be mindful that clubs' interest is essential to the game's growth. Its flagship policy, the catch them young referees programme is on course nationwide. It's another fine, visionary shot into the future.
We’ve to be international about development. The number of youngsters in the referees’ course, their classroom training and the competitions they’ve been officiating – all make the future look bright. There’s no guarantee that all the young refereeing seeds being sewn would fall on good soil, but it’s conceivable that via this policy, truly professional referees are being groomed for the future.
The increment in Regional Football Association (RFAs) subventions, the rise in RFA Chairmen’s allowances and the replacement of their vehicles are also laudable. The GFA must, however, ponder about the remuneration of players in our leagues and fashion out policies that would mandate clubs to pay players well. Ours is a relatively small football economy, yet our players deserve better on all fronts.
An important note in Kurt’s address was the education and technical development of football personnel. We must continue encouraging and empowering people in the game. The game maybe played by anybody, but its administration at all levels can’t be left in the hands of just anybody. It must be those with requisite capacities to man offices or tasks assigned to them.
In our football, we often cry more than the bereaved. Clubs must benefit from their association. If there’s anything detrimental to their growth and only a few or none would seek changes, there are little commentators can do apart from calling for the right things to be done. Meanwhile, when steps – no matter how small are being taken to address the plight of clubs, those steps must be duly acknowledged.