Bearing a cross for letting a team down

Some mistakes can be painful and haunt you for the rest of your life. 

What makes it even worse is, you become paranoid that, when you see two people in any discussion, you feel the subject matter is you.

Footballers and any team sport know what it means when one among them makes a mistake. 

That is why, being the cause of your team or country downfall can be very traumatizing.

When this happens, the victim feels like the whole world has been put on his head to carry around.

I say this out of my experience at the Accra Training College (ATRACO) where I trained as a Teacher.

Aside my academic demands, I joined the school’s female football team and was so committed to it.

In the early 2000s, during the intercollegiate sports competition hosted by the Ada Training College (ADATCO) in Ada of the Greater Accra region, I represented my College and wore the college’s blue and white and number three shirt with pride.

In our first match with the Mount Mary Training College (MOMACO), my college team,ATRACO, was full of energy and loaded for bear; optimistic of a win.

For me as a left-back defender, the expectation or vim was high.

In the course of the game, the referee noticed an infraction against us, for which reason a penalty was awarded against us (ATRACO).

After a calm protest, the referee explained that one of our players handled the ball in our goal area.

Characteristic of footballers, I knew I had hit the ball with my hand to prevent our opponents from scoring. So, I knew the verdict was right but tried in vain to get the referee to change the verdict.

The referee stood his grounds and stood at the penalty spot.

Its penalty against ATRACO with Dzifa Emma Tetteh as the culprit. My only wish and prayer was that I may not let my team down.

I wished there was the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to still determine the validity of the decision.

Well, the penalty was taken by young lady called Emma from the Mount Mary Training College and effortlessly, she scored.

• Andre Ayew has been at the receiving end of a backlash for wasting Ghana’s penalty against Uruguay

Immediately after the goal was scored, I was substituted by our coach.

The journey from the field to the team’s bench appeared to me like one from Accra to Tema as I heard several invectives from fans yelled at me.

My crime was unintentionally committing a foul in my goal area.

I would have become an instant heroine or a ‘Louis Suarez’ if the kick had been wasted and we had emerged victorious.

As I took my seat on the bench, I prayed fervently for an equaliser and subsequently, a win.

But we lost.

I wept like a baby. My heart was broken. Some team members were nice enough to console me to let it go and rather prepare for the next two matches. Others were mean and called me names.

They blamed me and that made things even more difficult for me.

In the school, I just wanted to get into my room, cover myself with and forget about what had happened but I was wrong.

As soon as we arrived at the hall, someone asked for the outcome of the match and one of our players retorted:“we lost.”

The next question was how it happened and another replied “Dzifa used her hand to hit the ball and they got a penalty from which they scored.”

This reply made me feel like the ground should open and swallow me up.

Thankfully, those were the days none of us had a mobile phone and so the speed of information flow was controlled to a large extent.

If it had happened today, I would have probably had a mental break down.

I still remember how I couldn’t go out to eat and had to hide throughout the day. 

Anytime I saw two or more people together, I concluded that they were talking about me. It was a real torture especially being a first year student.

The following day, our coach sent a message that I was not playing the next match which for me was even a relief. If I remember correctly, that match ended goalless. 

During our third match, I had the opportunity to play for just about 15 minutes. 

For the ladies team, it wasn’t the usual 90 minutes but 60 and so it was during the second half I had the privilege of playing again.

While the substitution was going on, someone shouted, “Don’t go and catch the ball again o” and that was enough to make me lose concentration throughout the game. 

I played carefully and on so many occasions had my hands behind me. How on earth can a player in that posture be effective?

Well, the match ended without another infraction from me and I was very grateful to God however, because we lost the first three points, it did affect our progress and so the blame on me continued for a long time.

In that same vein, I knew it was not an easy feeling for the Captain of the Black Stars, Andre ‘Dede’ Ayew after missing Ghana’s penalty against Uruguay at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

I have seen a couple of posts on social media which seem very disturbing and the fact that the ‘Internet never forgets’, those comments would be there for years.

Ghanaians and in fact Africa, had high hopes in the Black Stars and looked forward for vengeance following Suarez’s scooped ball that denied Ghana and Africa a first semi-final berth at the senior World Cup.

It’s normal for soccer fans to unleash such outcry and backlash on players after such disappointing moments but must also note that overdoing such acts could compromise their mental health.

As Ghanaians, let’s be guided by the idiom that the person that fetches water for the house is the most likely to break the pot.

Believe me, things are not easy for them and they have already beaten themselves up so many times already.

It is sad to say this but I wish the country a better luck next time.


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