We must adopt a long-term plan to rewrite the wrongs in our football

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SONA 2024 28
Nana Addo at 2024 SONA

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has highlighted the pressing need for a comprehensive, long-term strategy to address the persistent challenges facing Ghanaian football.

His remarks come amid concern over the performance of the Black Stars at the recent Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire, where the team fell short of expectations, finishing the group stage with only two points out of a possible six.

The team’s early exit from the tournament, under the guidance of then-coach Chris Hughton, has sparked questions about the future of football in the country.

Speaking during his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Tuesday, February 27, President Akufo-Addo acknowledged the disappointment felt by the nation and emphasized the importance of a collective effort to restore the national team’s pride and success on the international stage.

“The recent AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire was probably the nadir of the performance of the Black Stars, and has left the nation saddened. However, I am quite certain that the young men and the technical handlers would, themselves, have wanted to make our nation proud, and I believe that the captain, Andre Dede Ayew, meant every word when he rendered heartfelt apologies on behalf of his team-mates to all Ghanaians for the team’s early exit,” he said.

The President outlined plans for a ‘Presidential Policy on Football’ aimed at addressing the root causes of the challenges facing Ghanaian football.

The initiative will involve collaboration between the Ministry of Education’s School Sports Department, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to establish juvenile teams at district, regional, and national levels for both boys and girls.

“I believe it is time for us to take a long-term, far-sighted approach to correct what has gone wrong. It is time to return to scouting, grooming and developing talent at the district grassroots level under a Presidential Policy on Football that I intend to unveil,” he continued.

“The school sports department of the Ministry of Education will work hand in hand with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in collaboration and synergy with the Ghana Football Association (GFA), to build district, regional and national juvenile teams for both boys and girls.

Highlighting the infrastructure investments made by his administration, including the construction of over 150 astro turf pitches across the country, President Akufo-Addo said it is important to provide the necessary facilities and resources to nurture young talent.

“The more than one hundred and fifty (150) astro turf pitches constructed throughout the country, under this administration, provide the foundational facilities to make a start, as we strive to provide more of them. We should see a steady progression of talent up the ladder from the junior juvenile teams to the senior sides based on merit, and nothing else.”

Despite the recent setbacks, the President pointed to recent successes at the youth level, including the Black Satellites’ victory at the U-20 AFCON in Mauritania in 2021 and the Black Princesses’ triumph at the WAFU B Girls’ Cup in Kumasi in June 2023, as indicators of Ghana’s footballing potential.

Despite the setbacks, President Akufo-Addo reiterated his commitment to supporting and promoting football in Ghana, stressing the importance of a collective effort to overcome the challenges and build a brighter future for the sport in the country.

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