Ghanaian football: media practitioners to help revive the game?

ACCRA, January  20 2020 – Finally, domestic football is back in Ghana with the start of a new football season spearheaded by the Premier League. The women’s premier league will follow this coming weekend after division one started last weekend, with the second division and rest coming later.

The return of football follows the enforced one and half years of inactivity as a result of the dissolution of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the suspension football activities in the country by the Ghanaian government, in the wake of Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ shocking revelation of blockbuster corruption in the local game.

It’s now four matchdays in the 2019/20 Premier League season that excitedly kicked off during the festive season on 29 December, but it was plainly clear by the kick-off time of the second round of fixtures that all the football people, especially the players and fans, are more than excited to see Ghana’s number one sport back and running after almost 18 months of hibernation, to the extent that there’s already been a fans’ misbehaviour following their team’s defeat, and related shooting and subsequent team home ban.

The football and its related fan excitement and happiness have returned because a substantive GFA team is back in place of the Normalisation Committee that was needlessly created to replace the former GFA team.

Media men and women take centre stage

Apart from the clubs, players, and fans, other stakeholders who are enjoying the biggest excitement are the media and particularly sports journalists.

Quite correctly, Ghanaian sports journalists have greatly profited from their colleague journalist’s intervention to save Ghanaian football from alleged corruption. And now it is their chance, a golden one, of course, to help revive the game and bring it back to real life, after the applauding effort of Anas – an investigative journalist not really linked to football or sports – to expose football corruption.

Just a month after sports journalist turned football administrator Kurt Okraku was voted into power to take over the running of Ghanaian football from Kwesi Nyatakyi as the new president of the GFA, sport journalist Prosper Harrison Addo has become the new general secretary of the GFA. That was after another media man Tamimu Issah, who was a member of the media team of the immediate past GFA and was a writer and reporter for ‘GFA News’ newspaper, a former publication of the football association, has been appointed as the new communications director for the football association.

Thus, the three key positions – president, general secretary, and spokesman – at the current GFA are held by men who are known sports journalists, the first two position holders are members of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG).

Kurt – known as the ‘Game Changer’ for his remarkable belief and ability to make things happen, and currently reveling in his popular ‘Bring Back The Love’ campaign for the Black Stars and Ghanaian football in general – used to be one of the top broadcast sport journalists in Ghana, working for various radio stations as a sport presenter before travelling to the UK to further his education at University in Liverpool, where he made some strong contacts at Liverpool FC, and after which he developed love and a career in football administration.

Likewise, his new general secretary worked for a few radio stations and also in the print media before continuing his education in Manchester in the UK. He returned to eventually work in the immediate past GFA as chairman of the disciplinary committee.

Three other experienced journalists – Dr Randy Abbey, Frederick Acheampong and Sometymer Otuo Acheampong – also find themselves in the thick of affairs in Ghanaian football, not only as club executives but also as members of the new GFA executive council, a 12-member committee responsible for taking all the big decisions in the management of the GFA.

Randy, chief executive of division one side Heart of Lions, vied for the position of the vice president of the GFA and narrowly lost by one point, but he has served the GFA in a high office before, as a then executive member and the spokesman between 2005 and 2010.

As if this is enough, a good number of other Ghanaian sport journalists have assumed important positions in this new era of Ghanaian football, making it an era of media people in football in the country of four-time African champions.

The women’s premier league committee has Rosalind Amoh, one of the finest female sport journalists of her generation, who is also on the women’s sports commission of the Ghana Olympic Committee, as its vice chairperson, with another female journalist Nana Aba Anamoah as a member of the committee.

Another lady, broadcast sport journalist Mavis Amanor is serving on the club licensing board, and Michael Oti Adjei, who has over two decades of doing all aspects of sports journalism, in newspaper, radio, TV and website, is the vice chairman of the referees committee.

Another very important arm of the football association is its disciplinary committee, to check indiscipline in the game and ensure discipline among all, and two names, Eva Okyere and Nat Laryea, on this five-member committee are those of sport media practitioners.

Apart from their various roles in the new GFA, some of which are so vital, media men are also involved with many of the football clubs.

Already in the boat are Charles Kwadwo Ntim, popularly known as ‘Micky Charles’, who is the owner and president of division one side Techiman City FC, and Ameenu Shadow who was appointed the head of administration at Dreams FC – the Premier League club of which the current GFA president was the club president – in 2016.

Before Shadow took control at Dreams, broadcast sport journalist Henry Asante was and is still a media officer at the side that currently sit 6th on the table in Ghanaian Premier League.

Asante’s colleague at GTV (Ghana Television) Sport Kennedy Boakye-Ansah is the public relations officer of one of Ghana’s two biggest clubs Asante Kotoko. A similar position is held by his GTV Sport colleague Kwame Dwomoh at the wonderfully named Legon Cities FC – the former Wa All Stars Premier League side that was owned by the disgraced former GFA boss Nyantakyi – where he is the communications director.

Joining their senior colleagues on the podium- Rosalind, Eva, Mavis and Nana Aba- are a duo of enterprising young lady sports journalists who are contributing their quota to the development of women’s football in Ghana. Lawrencia Akosua Adjei – a rising star who is also of GTV Sport – is the public relations officer at women topflight side Samaria Ladies, whilst the hardworking Genevive Naa Amerley Bardina Quaye is the director of communication of Police Ladies, also a premier league side.

Can they help revive the game?

A journalist, that is Anas, intervened to make way for another journalist, Kurt, to take over the ship. And he (Kurt) in return has made way for many of his colleagues in the sport media to be part of his team to help turn around the fortunes of Ghanaian football.

But can they really help in reviving the game?

It is very early days in the lives of both the new GFA and Premier League, and so it is only a matter of time before we can know whether the influx of media men and women in the running of Ghanaian football can help truly bring the game back to life.

In these infant days of Kurt’s administration, there are already a few big talking points. The highly controversial issue about the award of TV rights for the Premier League in particular and the decision to sack all national team coaches and their backroom staffs, including Black Stars coach Kwasi Appiah and his team, have raised some eyebrows.

Aside these, things seem to be going well so far, with Kurt’s passionate campaign of ‘Bring Back the Love’ catching on well with both the media and fans and the Premier League bringing back some excitement among the people as a result. And the unprecedented quick manner by which some of the GFA sub committees have sat and dealt with issues arising is remarkably impressive.

But most crucially it remains to be seen if the many media practitioners now in the game can help see a truly smooth running of Ghanaian football, especially the local game, bearing in mind the many problems the leagues, particularly the Premier League, have seen in the past.

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