Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ghana Women's Soccer, A Force No More ?

First of all let me congratulate Nigeria,South Africa,Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia for making it to the semi-finals of the Olympic qualifiers. Hopefully the best two nations will represent the continent with pride at London 2012. This  is  not to say the vanquished did not give a good account of themselves,in fact countries like Tunisia,Cameroon and Namibia are not to be written off. They are definitely strong sides who could pose problems for the accomplished nations in future.This is a sign that women's soccer on the continent of Africa is in deed maturing and with planning,logistics support,sponsorship and the support  from fans world wide African women's soccer will soar.

You see, there are three categories of women's soccer administrators- the innovative ones who will do all it takes to put their country's women's game on the women's soccer world map by developing the sport from the grass roots level,equipping their coaches and handlers with the needed technical support,providing incentives for their players etc;

There are also those who are ready to learn from the successes of  the more accomplished  nations,have little or no support,be it financial or technical but are striving hard with the little they have and are making remarkable progress much to the admiration of  others.

Finally there are those who have all it takes to be the best,but have been blinded by the  lack of foresight and so have chosen to remain comfortable in mediocrity  whiles others flourish. These are the administrators I will be addressing in this piece.

From 1990 to 2003,Ghana and Nigeria have been the dominant force where women's soccer on the continent of Africa is concerned with South Africa playing the role of the dark horse. The rivalry between these two countries is as fierce as they come. Both countries have produced very good players.Nigeria for one, continues to produce arguably the best players and also has the best youth program whereas Ghana is gradually fading  and losing her reputation as an African giant in women's soccer.Let's take a walk down memory lane.

Ghana made her debut appearance at the FIFA world  cup in 1999 under the guidance of coach E.K. Afranie with the likes of Patience Sackey,Juliana Kakraba,Vivian Mensah,Stella Quartey,Alberta Sackey,Adjoa Bayor ,Elizabeth Baidoo to name but a few, gifted players, who unfortunately bowed out of the game prematurely due to reasons i shall point out later.It is a bit baffling that Ghana won nothing with the calibre of players at the time.

The world cup in USA 2003 saw Ghana win her first game against Australia and many hoped to see Ghana build on the performance at the world cup.Unfortunately Ghana has seen her women's soccer plunge deeper since, with the premature  retirement of her stars which stems from some incompetent administrators  lacking foresight who have bad man management skills,negative press directed towards the women and the dwindling support from fans. Talk about take one step forward and a thousand steps back.

Matters were compounded in 2007 when Ghana once again failed to advance from the group stages in China. Truth be told,Ghana's performance in my opinion is the poorest I have ever seen.Sure enough, the same abysmal performance was repeated in South Africa 2010 and deservedly,Ghana couldn't qualify for the 2011 world cup under E.K Edusei, the very same coach who was relieved of his post in the early '90s.Every body deserves a second chance they say, so Edusei was given a second bite of the cherry and what was the out come ? FAILURE ! Surprised ? Where is that combative spirit the Ghanaian female soccer player  once had ?

How much does women's soccer mean to Ghana and what more will it take for the administrators of Ghana's women's soccer to realize the depth to which the sport has sunk ?Must it take  a 10-0 hammering before the administrators sense the need for change ? I will not place the blame at the doorstep of the players because the character of the coach is what rubs off of  his players. The entire women's soccer program needs  an overhaul  and heads must roll, for there is no more room for paying lip service to the deplorable condition the women's sport is in.

The recycling of coaches and the experimentation with the Black Queens must stop. Ghana's FA needs to re-examine their approach towards women's soccer,because too many good players have exited the game prematurely when they could have added more bite to national team. All the same I see the recent failure as a blessing,perhaps the GFA will sit up and pay attention. The time to act is now !

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