Atsu: Da Yie
Until the heart-breaking tragedy of Christian Atsu, it would have felt awkward to ask home-abroad grief over death of one footballer as some numbers had preceded. The reality is this dictates inquest ipso facto about our football with declined prowess, apart from very respected cultural sensitivity which reluctantly cries ‘’Da Yie’’ [rest well].
Behind what has seized us, is a statement Atsu’s categorically confronts us with the truth: sports had fallen into a comme ci and comme ca quagmire for years, perhaps half-shut eyes-minded periodically. Football and death are the only twin phenomena which inextricably share instant mutually provoked anguish whichever struck first. Both have common denominators: physical and morph, being the passing-on. And inconsistency, as Ghana’s international soccer player Atsu’s has delivered a possibility for the country to fully realise [i] football is a game with boxing and athletics which used to be entwined with [ii] which we have with our national anthem and flag. And perhaps ask what happened briefly narrating history and hope to determine the faux pas, going forward.
The answers are lots. The better preference is the sweet history that these have developed over the years since independence, whereas the achievements of the three predate that historically remarkable fame. There has been deterioration generally throughout ; what you find is everyone meant well with near-consummate sincerity, marginal or huge profit to self and nation at large, not in any either objection or denied-minded. Also, to be honestly fairest, the women and men on the years of being on the pitches at home and abroad performances had overwhelmed themselves more for country than themselves. And the Managers as well. I am determined to anonymous but I would want ‘’acquitted and discharged’’ for my breaching to mention Alice Anum at Christchurch in New Zealand before the 1970 Munich Olympic games-disaster [Arab (PLO)—Israeli].
She endured such pain [like woman before birth] to secure us a ‘golden’ Bronze after Raelene Boyle (Australia) beaten by East German’s Stetcher, a power-house of a sprint woman at the 100 metres. GBC’s Ben Eghan Jr and I in live-shared radio cast, commenting involuntarily cried as Daily Graphic’s Ken Bediako and Willie Kwarteng (GT) could not control emotions as I signed off. I doubt memory has so faded to recall believably that Alice did a double at Munich. I stand for correction. And also reflect on my friend Nii Armah–G.W.Amarteifio working on our greatest Bantamweight Sulley Shitu at the Empire Pool , connected with the commonwealth games in Edinburg in Scotland late 60s at which also a Daily Tabloid front paged emblazoned headline that the Africans were using voodoo. But it is reference to record exemplary dedication of managers and handlers –par excellence.
I cannot fail to do them exemptional homage pro patria, going over the record, relative to comparable with Atsu’s services to make ‘’the succinct difference’’ in the lives of many unknown as popularly as he achieved, immortalised. Sports with its multi aspects were best specifically started as part of curricula in Achimota secondary school. I believe it was supposed to have been the cradle and expected being replicated step by step, as a national integral part of education for the colony. .The colonial administration brought in a Scott Steel was his name for the project. I shall return briefly to sports master Steel in a moment. His assistants were Allotey Bruce-Konuah (Conduah) and a Ceylonese whose only pop name was ‘’Paa Joe’’. Allotey left to raise a successful challenge at his elder brother’s A. K’s newly-found Accra Academy secondary school. Next, was Mfatntsipim at the typical British games of lawn tennis and cricket.
Two things happened, one immediate–that changed the dominance of Achimota at inter-colleges’ annual competitions and latterly, the Black Stars were given two other banks to –the Meteors and Academicals to draw from all disciplines in Sports. That was basis of virtual nationalisation, the focus off boxing and athletics to football, epitomised in the COS and the Real Republicans football which was the Black Stars with one couple exceptions. Mind you, football as from the start at Cape Coast 1910 a trio friends founded Mysterious Dwarfs and boxing at Arena and or Bukom in Accra and confined there since about the same time as football spread in the Central Province to Sekondi [Eleven Wise, later Hassacas] and Kumasi [Asante Kotoko and Cornerstones]. Swedru [All Blacks]. But in Accra were Hearts of Oak 19II and Highlanders and Argonauts, long before Great Olympics. Actually, boxing had become identified with Accra only. After Roy Ankrah had won the Commonwealth Featherweight [thanks to the honesty of the English referee Harry Gibbs] boxing raised the country’s national pride before independence all else.
Then followed football with the appointment of national coach George Ainsley, remembered by teaching our footballers ‘’Angels don’t play football’’ because the fashion was lots of applause which made deaf for the player who highest-skied the ball—discounted scoring goal. Stadia were laid with running lanes tracks and in fields facilities; and to develop equal enthusiasm for the other sports including swimming pool at the Accra Sports stadium. All that were smashed in 1966 together with the annual games between the West African Commonwealth countries, dying gradually. Much of the new formats in the old Trio—boxing, athletics and football have survived with sops of state subventions.
During the years in between 1966 to date we’d been threatened with expulsions, bans and suspensions for subscriptions-defaults together with infraction of sorts, particularly state interferences of the independence of sport. At home, it seems the only lucrative engagement is owning football club. As much good as they appear, the clubs, expansions have not been without through unabated but reported scams, enquiries, the courts and quarrels, tied allegedly with partisan politics, all part of struggles in political power in this country. I should add that is preceded from broken households. The cracks remain, looking permanent. The infiltrations syndrome manifests with the of leaderships of religious sects in this country. This could probably be paused by the Cathedral’s slapsticks and likewise for football peculiarly, the frail shifts from stout counters initially to put money and or peddling hefty political influences ahead of player-welfare in the football clubs, suggestively claimed to be in the hands of cabals; or dictatorships of owners, so-described.
Lest the second point of the two results which I had earlier raised is lost, the proliferation of football clubs. That removed or replaced out the tribal identikits attached from the beginning. I was once told of the Asantehene Otumfuor Nana Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, pulled aside Ohene Djan, Director of COS after inspecting the teams to remark-wonder the new ethnic mix content of Asante Kotoko. That hinted at an emerging renaissance, looking at the history. Suspicions lurks at relations between political parties and football.
It is an argonaut to unravel to the extent that research halts at which conclusion to opine as to who invited whom. It can be traced to the structure of financial arrangements which make the State persistently paternal. Even in Britain currently Sports authorities are appealing to the government for help. Covid may have dented finances but running a sporting facility is expensive.
Unexplained here is the oft-rumour “chop-chop’’ which sends the brilliant abroad, both in their personal and nation’s if they triumph. That on its own may not the error. \But our collective mistake is [i] not holding the salesmen to account in and out ; and [ii] an apparent complacent state only showing seemingly compelled-pushed like Atsu’s departure in the circumstances. The mainstream and the flipside scathing reactions since the confirmation of ‘’found dead’’ are disturbingly crystalised-innuendos. Its non -directly relativity for the essences of unanimous griefs also substantially deducts into bogus the meanings and indeed questions how genuine of our thundering sympathies—a clearest inability to separate politics to let sanctity of culture prevail. That says there is need to urgently look at the dichotomy with references to the two and pulling two quick previous hiccups for lessons reminders—the raw cash flown to pay bonuses and the said-stolen money for similar purpose. Of most right though, is that the chaps, irrespective of sporting disciplines plus whatever else, are running most favourable global advertisements of the country. We owe it to them and appropriately into perpetuity, huge bills– un-costed and unpaid. Our part restoration now explains the dawn of purging our ingratitude, because if the enormity of indebtedness to them and were they listed today at the stock exchange in the city of London’s stock exchange, we can’t pay.
It would still be galling to pigeonhole how politics gazumped sports here. A tenuous link might: British import to Achimota School Sports master Steel, labelled communist deported before UGCC August 4, 1947. It was March 12, 1948 Governor Sir Gerald Creasy arrested Dr Nkrumah and other Five with among reasons that search found blank British Communist Party’s membership form in Nkrumah’s papers. That tainted to link the ‘’BIG SIX’’ to justify killing off the UGCC.
Dr J.B.Danquah robustly beasted the Governor in the behalf of detained colleagues. Relevant, however, innocuous hind sight question to muse about is there was then and now that party in Britain, asked with strictest disinterest except as a free thought emphatically.
Prof. Nana Eselfie-Conduah