It would be interesting to know the kind of strategies agreed upon at a recent crunch meeting in Accra between the Ministry of Sports and the leadership of the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA) to halt the rapid decline of attendance at Premier league matches.

Veteran Sports Journalist Ken Bediako-The Writer

A statement issued by the Sports Ministry said further consultation would be made between all stakeholders including the Ghana Football Association, the National Sports Authority, the Ghana League Clubs Association and the supporters for their inputs on the strategy to be adopted to address the situation.

“Meanwhile the Minister would like to appeal to supporters of the various clubs to patronise the local league matches to raise enough funds to manage the clubs to develop them to the level that we all desire”, the statement added.

Conspicuously missing from the stakeholders list is the sporting media, precisely the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG). I wonder why.

It is universally acknowledged that competitive sports and Games thrive on publicity. Indeed, if I were still an active SWAG member I would gate crash at the meeting. I will tell the meeting that football is a major source of entertainment so the actors, that is the footballers must be well trained and motivated to give of their best.

The old fashioned jargon that big names don’t matter has proved to be false. Fans pay to see the stars on parade for good entertainment.

Our footballers must live up to expectation. It is natural that they can’t be at their best all the time but you can really see a lazy player if there is one.

The players must be thoroughly brought up by dedicated technical brains.

The craze for instant stardom with bagful of dollars must not be encouraged. The numerous self-styled bank rollers of the clubs would do well to go steadily with the expected returns on their investments. The young players must be

schooled to pass through the crucibles and mature steadily to reach the top. No shortcuts to fame and money. If the players are well groomed to give of their best no matter the odds, fans will be motivated to fill the stands to cheer them up.

Pace setters Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko still have a huge dedicated support base. Hearts call them Chapters and Asante Kotoko have the Circles.

It was the late forward looking chairman Tommy Thompson (Nii Hearts) who mooted the Chapters idea and flamboyant Simms Mensah openly copied this brilliant concept and named his Kotoko Circles.

These two voluntary supporters group did a lot of groundwork to boost the morale of the players. I suggest the current administrators of these giant clubs must pay attention to the activities of these two groups. It is no accident that only matches between these two oldies are comparable to the top European fixtures we see on TV.

For the records Hearts and Kotoko are the only surviving clubs that have never tasted demotion since the inception of the National league in 1958 with eight clubs. The other six original league debutants Accra Great Olympics, Kumasi Cornerstone, Sekondi Eleven Wise Sekondi

Hasaacas, Cape Coast Venomous Vipers and Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs have all tasted relegation several times.

Currently, it appears the Ghana Premier League is facing an identity crisis. Some say it is a professional league just in name. Standards are not that high enough to accommodate 18 Premier clubs.

There is so much talk about the low salary of the players but I am afraid that is not the business of the GFA. The football controlling body can’t fix salaries for club players.

If you want to run a one-man club, that’s your business. In the old amateur system, we had football philanthropists like B.K. Edusei, Albert Owusu Ansah, S.K. Mainoo, Mourkazel, H. P. Nyemitei, W. K Kpikpitse, Roger Ocansey, E A. Nartey, Ackah Blay-Miezah and several others who sponsored players with employment and in some cases free accommodations etc.

Most of the players were gainfully employed in state institutions like Farmers Council, Workers Brigade, SIC, etc. In fact, they only received bonuses and allowances from the clubs apart from numerous freebies from supporters.

Even those so-called amateurs played with dedication and you will return from the Stadium

having had your money’s worth for good entertainment even if your team lost.

We can’t wholly attribute the current low patronage of the league to the economic climate.

The truth of the matter is standards are low. In my view there are too many unattractive clubs in the Premier league parading a number of players yet to hit the mark.

I believe strongly that the sports media need to salvage the situation with a deliberate well-coordinated promotion package to encourage fans to throng to the stadium.

The emphasis here is on deliberate promotion and a lot of motivation is needed here.

I am sure the organisers know that nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Let’s learn how to call spade a spade but not a garden instrument.

It is agreed by all that football is now big business but we must first learn to crawl before we walk

The fundamentals must be right. Colts and school football must be well coordinated. The numerous mini Stadia with artificial turfs must be well utilised and we will be on the right path to give “the passion of the nation” the needed boost once and for all

Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.

SOURCEBy Ken Bediako
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