The atmosphere in Ghana last Friday before the titanic encounter between Ghana and Brazil was accentuated by the justifiable media hype and a good number of hard core political newspapers dedicated their front pages to the match with very interesting banner headlines.
The Mail had “Ghana will Shock Brazil” as its front page caption and at the end of that eventful night, that headline was justified. The sterling resilience put up by the ten-man Satellites did not only shock Brazil but it proved to be a pleasant surprise that threw millions of Ghanaians into the streets for a wild jubilation that travelled into the heart of the night.
Being numerically handicapped for close to ninety minutes and going ahead to beat Brazil on a grueling penalty shoot-out was indeed a miracle that merited every bit of the jubilation with which the victory was greeted. Once again, Ghana has chalked another first, having her name written with golden alphabets in the history books of football as the first African country to win the World Youth Championship.
The satellites have made not only Ghana proud but the entire African continent. Reports on international media organisations indicate that there were spontaneous jubilations all over the continent of Africa. The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, was also reported to have appealed to his countrymen to go to the stadium and rally behind Ghana in an African solidarity. This alone was enough demonstration that Ghana once again stood for the hope of Africa and did not let the continent down.
Even as we are still in a jubilant mood, it is important to ask ourselves, what is next after the funfair. The inspiration from the just ended tournament provides enough lessons that transcend the boundaries of sports into our political, economic and social lives. In terms of development of football in the country, one outstanding lesson football and other sports administrators need to learn is the fact that consistency pays.
Most of the regular players in the Satellites’ team played together in the Starlets squad two years ago and have won the WAFU Cup, African and World Youth Championships since graduating to the under-twenty team. This squad, like the Argentina 2001 squad that produced the likes of Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and John Mensah, is enough assurance that our senior national team has a formidable future if the current Satellites are well managed.
Ghana’s victory also provides an inspiration to African teams in next year’s World Cup in South Africa. The fact that an African country has, for the first time, won the seemingly impossible trophy is a motivational precursor to the World Cup to be hosted on an African soil for the first time. No African country has survived the quarter-finals stage of the World Cup but the Satellites’ historic victory has broken the jinx of a seeming impossibility and will psychologically spur the Black Stars and other African teams on in the 2010 World Cup.
The greatest lesson Ghanaians have to learn from the victory, however, goes beyond victory in football. The wild jubilation was mistaken for football passion. Though it was football, Ghanaians would not have celebrated the way they did if the final match was the most beautiful football match between two European countries or involved an African country. The football only ignited that hidden but strong nationalistic spirit in us.
It is that invisibly strong force that binds us together as a nation and we must never allow our differences to tear us apart. It is only that spirit can propel people with all their senses intact to go naked into the streets in unrestrained jubilations. The team that represented the Ghanaian spirit cut across political, regional, religious and ethnic lines. What this teaches us is that we are one, irrespective of differences in our ethnic beliefs and political ideologies when it comes to issues of national interest.
That spirit of unity that binds us together like the proverbial broom is stronger than every single individual, ethnic group or political party. The Mamprusis and Kusaasis, and Abudus and Andanis must see themselves as members of an extended family called Ghana. Supporters of the NDC and NPP whose activities sometimes threaten to make rank nonsense of our democratic gains must begin to see Ghana as a bigger political party without which both parties would not have been in existence in the first place. Ghana is our home and our pride of being Ghanaians should transcend football.
Though we have our own differences, the realization that we stand for the same course must rekindle the love for our nation and responsible citizenship among all Ghanaians. All divisive and negative tendencies that threaten our national unity should make way for the collective interest of Ghanaians. The satellites, I believe, are made up of different political parties but they achieved their goal when they united as a team to lift up the flag of Ghana.
We can only progress when we forget about the NDC and NPP after elections and see Ghana as our home, which we owe her a duty to build. Our politics is increasingly becoming dirty, especially with the NDC and NPP extremists, doing all within their power to outpace one another both in evil deeds and evil talk.
We (Ghanaians) are hounds of the same (Mother Ghana) owner and must not tear the game apart.
Manasseh Azure Awuni[firstname.lastname@example.org] The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism
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