Shameful

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 1, 2017 11:00

Shameful

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (September 27th 2017)

The Curse

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It’s been 35 years since Ghana last won the Africa Cup of Nations. To some the reason is the Black Stars are under an Africa Béla Guttman style Curse. One of their greatest players, the Rev Osei Kofi is in no doubt. The nation has won the trophy four times but the winning players have not received the rewards promised – houses.

Kofi heads a players’ organisation, representing players from a bygone era as professionalism was taking root. Anthony Baffoe heads the latter era one. Regardless of the broken promises the needs are similar, and despite claims to the contrary, the evidence suggests that players who served club and country from both eras have been neglected – badly.

Musonda

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Our pioneering work in Zambia, especially on former Chipolopolo captain Emmy Musonda is becoming known now. We took it Ghana, asking as we always do for football people to record messages to him telling him that football cares and they care. The aim is to encourage Musonda and show him that he is not on his own despite the horrid circumstances he finds himself in.

“Ghana has its own Emmy Musondas”, became a constant refrain. – and it was true. Musonda deserved better than he had received from life and football – a lot better – but Ghana was an eye-opener, and it was one former player in particular who opened my eyes.

Spreading

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Word soon spread of my interest and former players – legends – proved very helpful. During the competition I met the Elmina Sharks’ new coach Yaw Acheampong. He was the first to say Ghana had its own Musondas. He told me about Agyemang-Duah, and on his own staff was another in need. Fiifi Eshun says he lost three years from his career due to injury. He claims that he lost his coaching job with the Sharks – the New Team on the Block – because the injuries not only curtailed his playing career, but prevented him demonstrating what he wanted his players to do. He’s still on the Sharks’ payroll, but needs help.

Bad as Eshun’s situation is, it pales when compared to the horrors seen in Kumasi. But first there was Accra.

The Modest Champion

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Footballers are often accused of being pampered and spoilt. Former youth prodigy Nii Odartey Lamptey is anything but. He was a teenager when he went to Belgium to play. He didn’t have the education he should have, so he founded a school in Accra to give others opportunities he did not enjoy. He founded the Glow-Lamp Academy near Elmina to give talented youngsters a chance. Among his graduates is Kwame Kizito – he recently graced the WAFU Cup of Nations. Odartey Lamptey helps other less fortunate footballers.

Early in my trip I was told about ‘Rambo’ as former Black Stars defender Edward Agyemang-Duah is known. I wanted to meet him and see if we could help him. Agyemang-Duah was in his prime as the professional game had taken root, but it was far from a rich man’s game.

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Agyemang-Duah is the only Ghanaian to have played in three CAF Champions Cups, or League finals – and he did it with three different clubs, Ashgold, Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak.

Six years ago he suffered a stroke that has affected his mobility and speech. Unsurprisingly he wants and needs medication and physiotherapy, but resources are scant. Despite the assistance of colleagues he still needs help, plenty of it. But it isn’t just Agyemang-Duah. There are even worse tales. Odartey Lamptey told me that, and recommended that I go and see a young man named Ali Jarra. I am very glad he did, but Jarra’s story will be told in another article (see 100% Inspiration to be published by us shortly). But Jarra’s story was not the worst I heard, largely due to his resilience and determination and decency.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 1, 2017 11:00

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