The nation was thrown into grief on Saturday evening when eight juvenile players were tragically killed in a horrific road accident at Offinso, in the Ashanti Region.
Reports say, the Offinso-based Africa Vision Soccer Academy team was returning from a district colt football registration exercise at Afrancho, a suburb of Kumasi, when the bus on which they were traveling lost control, skidded off the road and plunged into the River Offin.
The upshot was grisly as a pack of grieving witnesses watched in horror as rescuers from nearby towns dived into the river and pulled the bodies from the wreckage.
However, help may have come in too-little-too-late, as six of the cadet players died on the spot – with two others giving up the ghost later at the St Patrick Hospital in Offinso where they were rushed.
Many others are also said to be in critical condition after sustaining various degree of injuries.
Players of the Africa Vision Soccer Academy are aged between 12 and 17. Five of the deceased are said to be students of Offinso State ‘A’ Junior High School.
It was not too clear the number of passengers on board the bus, though several reports quoted between 30 and 36.
There were also conflicting reports as to whether the ‘potentially great future stars’ were returning home after participating in a ‘gala’ competition – or from a registration ritual ahead of the season.
Saturday’s heart-rending crash has thrown the nation’s football fraternity into deep state of sorrow as people from the Offinso municipality especially, are severely traumatised and emotionally numbed.
Reports say bereaved families ‘stormed’ the St Patrick Hospital and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) on hearing the news of the ghastly accident that had taken away their ‘Ronaldos’ and ‘Messis’ and wept uncontrollably.
Tributes have poured in from the football community.
… GFA, Sports Ministry, NSA, SWAG express sympathy
Meanwhile, the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Ministry of Youth and Sports, National Sports Authority (NSA) and the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) have all sent their condolences to the bereaved families and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
The FA in particular, yesterday, delegated a team to the two hospitals to visit the victims and commiserate with the bereaved.
According to the FA website, the GFA delegation were made up the Ashanti Regional Football Association (ARFFA) chairman, Osei Tutu Agyemang (Kotoro), Exco member Fred Acheampong, National Juvenile Committee (NJC) member Aminu Abdullahi (Kamarat) and Samuel Otoo of the ARFA.
The juvenile team made up of young players and their handlers were headed to Afrancho having undergone their District Colts football registration exercise at Offinso on Saturday before the vehicle conveying them submerged.
The GFA delegation earlier visited the St Patrick’s hospital in Offinso where they met Dr Debrah who explained the extent of injuries the victims at the hospital sustained as a result of the accident.
The delegation also visited the bereaved families to commiserate with them before going to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to visit other victims who sustained serious injuries.
BY JOHN VIGAH