Leadership is cause, all other things are effect. It is trite knowledge that the current challenges of the Black Stars is due to the absence of Stephen Appiah; not simply in the sense of his footballing skills but his leadership. Ghana has always been bountiful in football talent but anytime the team is successively doing well, you can recognize a leader on the field. When the guns are blazing and the bullets are flying and the army is between hell and Armageddon, leadership at the warfront becomes more critical than what the Minister of Defence does or the leadership skills of the president in the presidential palace. Leadership is as good as when it is in use for a living dog is always better than a dead lion. Thus it is clear, that the Black stars and for that matter any team succeeds only when there is a leader on the pitch. In contemporary times, that person was Stephen Appiah.
When Stephen Appiah was the leader, the commitment of Essien, Muntari, Gyan Mensah and the like were taken for granted. Anytime duty called they answered. Many people thought it was just patriotic fervor. Yes these people were patriotic but in a game where one mistake wipes away a lifetime’s sacrifice from the heart and mind of an unappreciative populace, one needs more than emotional attachments to one’s country to continue feeling confident in the service of the nation. Appiah could elicit the respect of his friends and anytime a peer leader could do that, he could ask them to jump with him from the top of the tallest building in Jerusalem and they would gladly so. When the team failed to win the cup in 2008 and all thought Asamoah Gyan had been properly buried with insults, he resurrected and so did the team for the 2010 world cup. Why?
In 2012, the team lived on the team spirit Stephen Appiah had nurtured but failed to nurture another leader. They just kept on passing the baton to the next oldest or (senior as the prefer to call it) person.so the leadership went to Mensah but his health did not help him to hold on for long. So the captainship, which gets passed on like a family stool, arrived at the doorstep of Asamoah Gyan and he took it for a song and a dance. When I heard that our would- be- captain had slapped someone at Bunsu Junction for trivial issue, I knew we were in for trouble. Why should the leadership of the Black Stars be based on seniority and not Leadership quality?
In the current lack of leadership direction came a coach who appears to lack same and therefore unable to control the ‘boys’. In his own playing days, talent was probably more in the Black stars than now. But because of the poor leadership he and the Maestro, Abedi Pele, exhibited the team could not win anything worth more than a feather. Having undergone tutelage under many coaches, one would think that Akwasi Appiah would have learnt leadership skills in addition to coaching knowledge. But nay. He appears to give credence to the saying that leaders are born and never made.
Leadership can be taught. Ledership can be learnt. It is time the GFA organizes leadership courses and also teach the players practical leadership skills instead of just how to chase a ball for 90 minutes.
Meanwhile the decision to hand over the Black stars to Akwasi Appiah is likely to sink the team for up to a generation if a drastic U-turn is not made now. This has nothing to do with his coaching abilities but everything to do with his leadership. Akwasi Appiah’s team is already in a mess, a leadership mess leading to damaging allegations prostituting the image of the Stars with little abandon. It will cost the nation less in emotional energy, time and other resources to change him now than to wait till he succeeds in making the Ayew brothers full waywards.
By Kwaku Asimenu-Forson