The question is as contentions as vexations, such as age-long query. It’s unfeasible to provide one answer that fits all generations as the conditions and circumstances differ substantially from one generation to the other.
In the early 1950s when organized football commenced in the Gold Coast through to the early stage of the 1980s, soccer was never considered a profession in Ghana as our footballers only played the sport for the love of it.
Within that context Ghanaian footballers felt greatly appreciated particularly during the days of the first president of the land Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who made them feel as real National heroes with attention showered on them. As much as the players appreciated the occasional material gifts offered them, their motivation was more on the opportunity offered them to serve their nation.
All that changed in 1978 when the then Head of state General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong promised each member of the Black Stars a house if they conquered Africa.
As fate would have it General Acheampong was deposed in a coup d’etat. Up to date, that promise is yet to be delivered. This, I believed is a stain on the conscience of the nation as our footballers from that point became distrustful of officialdom.
When the Black Stars conquered Africa, yet again, in 1982, none of the promise offered were delivered. In my humble opinion, it’s partly the reason the Black Stars never qualified for the Africa cup of Nations between 1984 and 1992. There was a sense of déjà vu in 1992 as, yet again officialdom failed to deliver any of their promises they offered the team, in the end, giving them paltry sum.
Not much changed between 1992 and 2004 as promise after promise fell on rocks.
All that would change from 2005 when Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi ascended the FA throne. The Black stars became some of the most pampered Ghanaians from 2006 to 2014, within the era of Kwesi Nyantakyi, the nation has continued to honor our heroes at the senior national level.
The same, however, cannot be said about the other national teams, from the under – 17 to the Black Meteors where very scant regard is offered them.
25 years after conquering the world in Ecuador, it is only appropriate we pay attentions to the national under 17 teams, Black starlets first. When the Black starlets first conquered the world in 1991, streets in the nation’s capital Accra were named after them. I believe this was an enormous honour. Treasury Bills were also instituted for all of them to satisfy their material instincts.
In 1995, sadly even some of the few promises offered them remain unfulfilled up to date, a sad commentary on failed promises to our footballers over the decades.
The other question that leads itself for interrogation is whether or not juvenile players, as tender as 14-16 years should be cajoled and coaxed with monetary rewards.
Is that platform not supposed to be a purely preparatory ground meant to unearth talents?
For all the footballers who continue to moan and whine about “ill-treatment” from the state, have they paused for a moment to reflect over the vast opportunities donning the national colours offered them? Indeed, over 90 percent of the juvenile players who represented the nation in 1995 in Ecuador ended up with the European clubs. Indeed, the captain of the time Emmanuel Bentil succeeded in signing a pre-contract deal with German giants Bayern Munich even before the commencement of the tournament in Ecuador after German Scouts Had spotted him during their European tour. The point then has to be emphasized that our footballers are some of the most privileged in Ghana as other workers, our soldiers, teachers, policemen, farmers, civil servants and others space would not permit me to name, hardly receive similar support from the state.
The least our footballers can do therefore is to be grateful for the “little mercies” from the state.