THE Ghanaian Times takes a grim view, of the story of 21 children, aged between nine and 16, who were suspected to have been trafficked to South Africa, to play football.
The children, who were mainly from communities in the Sefwi areas of the Western Region, were trafficked under the pretext of undergoing training to be sent to Europe and America to play football.
According to the Acting Executive Secretary of the Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence Secretariat of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Mrs. Victoria Natsu, the children, all males, were abandoned by the trafficker whose name is being withheld for security reasons.
We are shocked but not surprised at the exposure of such an activity in the country.
Unless we are pretending not to know about this widespread activity of phoney recruitment of children and adults in similar manner, we would be making the rescue of the 21 children headline news.
As far as we are concerned, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Recruitment of children and sometimes adults, takes place in Asian and Middle East countries by agents to play football on daily basis.
We had, in the past, published stories about many Ghanaians who got stranded in many parts of the world, who have been hired to play football.
Often, these young men had to pay for their trip and the agents made so much money off the back of these unfortunate Ghanaians.
The story of these young men is not different from that of the 21 children, whose parents had to sell off their properties to fund their trips.
It is unfortunate that these unfortunate Ghanaians had to endure this treatment from such nonchalant recruitment agents, who are only out to milk them of their monies.
The exposure of this scam should serve as the turning point for the country to institute the necessary measures to curb these activities.
Many would-be footballers have fallen victims to such scams and had their hopes dashed in far away countries without any help.
We urge the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, as well as the National Security to cast their nets wider to other countries, especially in Asia to rescue many others who are stranded in these countries.
Similarly, security should be stepped up at the country’s ports to scrupulously check agents who travel with a large number of children outside the country.
We must stop these agents from further wreaking havoc on poor and unsuspecting families across the country.