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Where Are The National Colours In The Black Stars Jeserys?

Thu, 11 Jun 2009 Source: Segbefia, Bright

Asks Bright Segbefia

A recent development in our soccer circles has firmly confirmed the saying that fish gets rotten first from its head when it was alleged that the Sports Minister demanded some money to seek the help of a malam (an Islamic spiritualist, at least to the understanding of an average Ghanaian) to ‘strengthen’ the Black Stars in their qualifying matches.

The victory of our national teams at any level is the pride of the nation. For that matter some may argue that there is nothing wrong doing the biddings of a mallam once the aim is in the nation’s interest. But I bet to differ, for a lazy hunter cannot boast of an effective hunting dog. There has always been this perception, in fact, rather a debate by some soccer fans that juju determines the outcome of soccer matches. When it comes to voodooism, some countries stand out and yet they are hardly or never seen at all in any competitive international soccer matches, let alone play at the World Cup tournaments.

Superstition has dogged our soccer so much that when some Ghanaian footballers are returning home after winning an international contract, they transform their outlook with ear ring(s). And some youth do interpret this attitude as a spiritual fortification to enable them to excel in their career. My efforts at coaxing some youth that the practice is but a worthless fashion, foreign to our culture, were akin to pouring water on the duck. But why do the North African footballers who ply their trade outside the shores of their countries not do same, but it is only our black African brothers?

Superstition has been the bane of Ghana soccer and it’s about time we left it. Instead of undertaking serious trainings with requisite infrastructure, we allow superstition to take the better part of us, being deceived by this or that malam or man of God. To take readers down memory lane, superstition was raised to a higher level on Sunday 2 October, 2005 when Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko played at the Ohene Djan Stadium. Buses supposed to convey players of both teams were said to have arrived at the stadium through the main gate but without the players on board. The players later entered the stadium on foot via unapproved routes. If superstition was not the main consideration for this behaviour, what then could it have been? But l do not think we should blame the clubs much because Ghana Football Association (GFA), the Professional League Board (PLB) and other allied bodies did not issue any statement to condemn the act. What signal did the reticent send out to other clubs, endorsement?

Perhaps the silence is a confirmation of this critical observation among Africans that as a mother cow chews grass, its young ones watch its mouth and will also chew the same way. We also heard recently that two teams presented ten players each on the field of play and it was after some minutes after the match had gone underway that the eleventh players joined them. It happened in a high profile match in Ghana. For sometime now, I have been finding it very difficult to identify any of our national teams at any level (Starlets, Black Stars etc.) in international competitions. The principal question is why have our inspirational national colours, red, yellow, green and black star been removed from the jerseys of our national teams in international matches?

The usual Red Yellow Green colour, the trademark of our national jerseys, is not seen anywhere anymore. The other day I mistook Benin for the Meteos in their ECOWAS tournament because of the colour, yellow, of their jersey which has become almost synonymous with our national teams. Why is it that our national teams no longer depict the national colours? Can our sports administrators educate me? I am at a complete loss.

Just before the Black Stars’ recent heart-warming victory against Mali on 7 June, 09, their jersey was displayed on television. What I saw was a tiny crest of the national flag on the left breast. I said to myself that someone was trying to resuscitate the national colours in our national soccer but it looked as if that person lacked the needed support from the powers that be. Was it not comical that during the Africa Cup of Nations tournament hosted by Ghana recently, Ghana allowed the football rather to be designed in its colours while depicting nothing of it in the jerseys? Paradoxically, a group of national supporters were and are always seen on the TV, beautifully dressed in the national colours (Red, Yellow, Green with the Black Stars in it) cheering and campaigning for support for the Black Stars. Some players and supporters in the stands do wear wrist bands that show our national colours, ridiculous of those who choose to yank the colours from the jerseys.

We should not lose memory so soon of the embarrassing hullaballoo that followed our historic world cup qualification and participation after the media had reported that a “man of God” was demanding a hundred million old Cedis for having provided the magic wand for our qualification. The so called man of God was quoted to have been given only fifteen million by the then Black Stars’ captain, Steven Appiah, who said it was also reported to have told journalist that the money was a “gift”. What does this tell you?

Remember also another “man of God’ who, according to the media, was demanding a huge sum of money from the government in the late 1990s to “buy instruments and trumpets’ with which to sing to the heavens for heavy rain to fill the Akosombo Dam for our hydro-electric problem to be over? They are just coming out to fatten on our lean kitty if we sacrifice training for their ‘powers’. Prayer is good, but God helps those who help themselves. The players and their managers need sound health and travelling mercies from God to the stadium, the rest is dependent upon their preparations. Do not turn unto God when you refused to do what is right. God will not mind you! He’ll rather punish you, and severely too, for imprudent application of your senses.

The national teams of some countries no matter the level of game are easily recognised not only on field of play but elsewhere. Raise the Croatia national jersey anywhere even from among hand-me-downs and you will be amazed at the number of people including children who will easily mention the country because of the way it was featured as the country made its maiden appearance at the World Cup with their impressive performance.

Did we not hear of some African countries being asked by some ‘spiritualists” for having assisted the most- senior national teams to qualify to play at the Cup of Nations tournament? What followed that development were threats of curses of regrettable consequences should the governments fail to redeem their promises. We should not be deceived by any self seeking ‘man of God” that the national colours were the jinx of our poor showing in previous international tournaments. I have heard this in some quarters. Our sports authorities should outdoor the Ghana National Colours at the Cup of Nations and the World Cup in South Africa so that Ghanaians elsewhere will easily recognise it and it will be established and printed on the minds of people the world over. The design of the Black Stars jerseys should fully depict the national colours so that it will become identifiable in every international match.

It takes hard training, discipline and patriotism for a team to emerge victorious, but not the incantation of ‘malam’ or ‘man of God”. We’ll lose miserably in tournaments if we continue to squander time and resources seeing malams and man of God whilst our opponents use theirs to train. The victories our teams are chalking will lend some belief in these quarks once sums of money are being spent on them although the boys are already good.

The sight of national colours is highly inspirational as it strengthens the spirit of patriotism. Now that there are calls from all over for Ghanaians to be more patriotic why should our national emblems that serve as a beacon of unity and patriotism be pulled out of public view when our national teams are playing?

BRIGHT SEGBEFIA, bkwamii@yahoo.com ACCRA

Source: Segbefia, Bright