LIFE ANEW: How Nana Yaw Amponsah Plans To Restore Ghana Football’s Glory


Age — just a number, they say, but it counts for everything in Ghana.

It’s why the youngest one can be to contest the country’s presidency is 40 years, and also why most job vacancies announced in this country come with a huge ‘previous experience’ clause.

Put together, those reasons — not very reasonable, if you ask me — explain why we have so many ‘old’ folks with ideas far older than themselves holding offices that could be handled better by young blood and brighter minds. Even in soccer, a sport spun around the fibers of youth and exuberance, that is often the case. Until recently, in fact, football in Africa and the world itself was steered by men in their seventies.

Surely, you do get the picture, don’t you?

Well, in 2005, the kingmakers of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) ripped up that script by electing a banker-cum-lawyer in his thirties, Kwesi Nyantakyi, as president. Nyantakyi was young — way younger than any before him, in fact — and some doubted if he could really hold his own.

They needn’t have.

See, Nyantakyi had already occupied the office in an interim capacity for the latter half of that year, the highlight of which was the successful booking of a maiden Fifa World Cup ticket for Ghana, crowning a process that had begun when he served as vice-president to Dr. Nyaho Nyaho-Tamakloe (a man 27 years his senior).

We didn’t know it then, but Nyantakyi would turn out as the most accomplished of GFA bosses. He ended up serving longer than the newly introduced statutes would ever permit anyone to — and certainly longer than any in his long line of predecessors — but his remarkable longevity was only half of the story. The final years days of Nyantakyi’s 13 years at the helm might have played out rather unpleasantly, but when he did hit the right notes, the melody was delightful, as Ghana rose to become a major force on the international football scene.

A year after Nyantakyi’s chastening exit, another bespectacled, thirty-something-year-old seeks to take his place at the piano, raring to dish out his own tune as GFA chief. Of the lot looking to replace dethroned Nyantakyi — and, boy, are there some heavyweights — Nana Yaw Amponsah’s name isn’t the most resonating. The Phar Rangers president doesn’t match the experience of Fred Pappoe, the clout of George Afriyie, or even the hype of Kurt Okraku.


There are several boxes he ticks, however, and Amponsah’s plans to carry Ghana football forward are absolutely laudable. He only has to convince enough delegates of the GFA’s Congress to buy that vision when elections are held later this month — no small task, considering there are five others courting same favors, including some relatively known and more established personalities in national football circles.

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The odds, no doubt, are huge, but so is Amponsah’s ambition and the resolve to realize it. In his own words, Amponsah notes the deficiencies of the more popular contenders.

“I am not overawed by the other candidates because they have not demonstrated enough understanding of our peculiar problems, neither do they have pragmatic solutions to same,” he argues.

“They should be campaigning on their achievements after being part of the erstwhile administration for years, but here they are — still only holding out promises, forgetting they haven’t even been able to account for their stewardship in the various departments and key positions they once occupied.”

Amponsah may not have been present at the table too long, but he has certainly had the biggest seat in his sights for some time. Part of his confidence — he oozes that aplenty — is because he has enjoyed a two-year head start over the rest of the field, having campaigned on a manifesto long before his challengers drafted and launched theirs. Amponsah, though, talks up other significant advantages he lays claim to.

“I was involved in key areas of the game as a player agent for a decade, after which I pursued a career in sports law, sports sponsorship, and club ownership,” the bearded young man relates. Altogether, it’s a rich 15-year resumé in football that arms Amponsah with “the right international synergy to bring in the quality expertise and ideas required to help develop the sport in these parts.”

Morally, too, Amponsah argues that he stands tall, as he believes that his unblemished reputation — untainted by the previous regime’s stain — makes him better-placed to attract investors and sponsors toward growing Ghana football. For a beleaguered association in need of a fresh start and new life, Amponsah’s leadership would provide a clean break from the old order that ultimately failed to deliver.

Amponsah may not have been a member of the GFA regime that came crashing after the corruption scandal that struck in mid-2018, but even from afar, he — like most concerned Ghanaians — could so easily spot the pitfalls that saw the Nyantakyi-led hierarchy stumble to its sad end. Should he get the nod in the October 25 polls, the one-time FortyUnder40 awardee vows to do things quite differently.

“I will encourage transparency to bridge the gap between the public perception of the GFA and the reality, thus demystifying the organization’s operations, while opening the association up to all and sundry who can contribute their quota.

“There would also be the need to align the GFA’s developmental agenda with government’s through effective cooperation to use football as a tool to create employment and implement social interventions, particularly those targeted at the youth.”

As with all electioneering runs, tensions have been quite high in the build-up to the upcoming GFA showdown, with camps trading jabs that have been landed with little cushioning and, consequently, Amponsah — if he does emerge victor — knows just what his very first task would be.

“I will reconcile the football family during my first 30 days in office,” he pledges, “before establishing an all-inclusive team based on competence and expertise, not nepotism or cronyism.”

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With that sorted, next comes the real work.

“My administration will ensure that rules and regulations of the association are followed to the letter, thus restoring long-lost integrity to the GFA.

“On the grounds, I will refocus attention to the development of grassroots football and women’s football. The application of a modern edge to the domestic game would also see the main actors — the players themselves — benefit sufficiently from what their sweat yields. Commercial viability for clubs would be key to achieving this, of course, and although the impact wouldn’t be immediate, supporters can look forward to flocking to the various stadia — safe, upgraded and family-friendly — before long.”

‘Conviction’ is composed of no more than ten letters, yes, but the passion and power in Amponsah’s voice as he outlines these noble plans — “just a few slices of the whole,” he tells this writer — stretch the word to its very limits.

Over to you, Congress.

Source: Daily Mail GH

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