New FA reforms laudable, but key challenges remain

Kwesi Nyantakyi, GFA President

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has outlined a number of forward thinking measures expected to contribute to making football, particularly the domestic league, competitive and attractive as it was in the 90s.

Among the new reforms that the GFA wants to introduce include the forfeiture of points for teams that prevent TV broadcast and a compulsory U17 league for premier league clubs.

The Football Association has also agreed to mandate a qualified independent body to run the Premier League. The proposed body will be composed of experts who can bring their knowledge to make the league more attractive and profitable.

There will now be a Match Coordination Center (MCC) responsible for the monitoring and coordination of matches at all league centers in the Premier League.

The MCC, as part of its duties, will ensure that pitch panels are well positioned for the cameras, teams conduct themselves well during games, as well as ensure that approved jerseys are used while pre-match and post-match interviews are conducted.

This practice has been adopted by many leagues in Europe and other parts of the world, and it is expected to raise the level of professionalism in the domestic game, by ensuring that all rules are enforced.

The new reforms announced last week, after a three-day brainstorming summit in Cape Coast, is a step in the right direction, and if well implemented, will go a long way to lifting the quality of the domestic league.

Although most of the major proposals are subject to approval by Congress – the highest decision making body of Ghana football, it appears the FA is finally beginning to think in line with football lovers and pundits.

“It’s a common practice in the corporate world,” Kwesi Nyantakyi, President of the FA said of the MCCs. “We are adopting it and we believe that it will enhance the value of the league.

“We realised that it is important to engage people outside the Executive Committee for their views. So this might be a regular feature on an annual basis like what other public organizations do as retreats,” Mr. Nyantakyi added.

Since the 49-year-old assumed office in 2005 as President, this is the first time the FA has opened up its doors for various stakeholders to contribute their views on how Ghanaian football should be run.

Delegates for the summit were drawn from the Premier League Board, the Division One League Board, the Ghana League Clubs Association, the Professional Footballers Association and the media, which was represented by the Sports Writers Association of Ghana.

Although modalities on the implementation of some of the proposals are unknown yet, clubs should be given time to implement the U17 league, because it requires time, resources as well as patience to develop a very solid youth system/league.

All the ideas put forward need resources to ensure that they are achieved as envisioned. In light of this, FA should as a matter of urgency, take the issue of sponsorship more seriously.

One of the major threats to the league is the continuous player exodus. More needs to done to get lucrative sponsorships for the league, so as to help clubs pay their players better. This will also help prevent player exodus and contribute towards making the league more competitive and exciting once again.

The way forward

The Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education should work with the various stakeholders such as football clubs, academics, schools and colleges, research institutions, physical education instructors to run grassroots programmes at both national and community levels.

Every District Education office should have representatives from the various associations. The work of these representative would be to collaborate with the Ghana Education Service in identifying and training sports personnel for the country.

There should also regional sports schools. It is high time the country considered the establishment of regional sports schools in every region. These schools should be ran by the GES with technical and financial support from the GFA, GOC, GAA and the Ghana Boxing Association.

Such establishments should be in the form of Basic and Senior High Schools at every region where talented sports kids from the district level will be camped. These regional sports schools should be solely dedicated to the development of sports and education as well.

Sports has become a very lucrative industry and some countries are now treating it as a major export commodity.  Ghana therefore, cannot continue to live in its past glory while the numerous talents in the country are left to waste.

Stakeholders in the country’s sports sector, particularly football – the passion of the nation, must therefore put all hands on deck to return Ghana to the good old days. The period for marking time is over, the Black Stars’ slump should serve a good example.

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