Patriotism

I just saw this story about government asking everyone to start showing support for the Black Stars. First of all, the BBC reporter said many Ghanaians clearly missed the memo and I was one of them. When was the directive given and where? Three weeks or so to the tournament, are people really going to follow it? This was before the Champions league match and fans were more likely to be seen in red for Bayern Munich and blue and black for Inter than seeing any red gold green outfits.

Nevertheless, it is a noble idea and I hope we all join to show some pride in the national team. Let’s start this Friday. This article and the launch of the Professional Footballers Association of Ghana (PFAG) last week Friday got me thinking about what it means to be patriotic. Where does it begin and end especially when it comes to sports? Tough question but let me offer a few points.

PFAG secretary Tony Baffoe says he is ready to fight for players' rights

 

The chance to represent Ghana is an honor and the desire to represent the country as one of 23 ambassadors should be applauded. Too often, we the fans forget how hard these players work to be in the team. Obviously it helps to get professional contracts when you do well for your national team but there is also a pride that comes with being chosen that must be different from donning a club jersey.

At the launch of the PFAG, it was heartwarming to see current and former national team players. It reminds you of the sacrifices they make for the country. It was especially powerful to see in a short video, C. K. Gyamfi talking about coaching Ghanaian players to the cup win in Libya while playing at least one group match with ‘coal tar’ jerseys. Coal tar jerseys were necessary because they had to use the uniforms they trained with to play the games. They didn’t have numbers on the backs of their training jerseys so they used coal tar to mark the jerseys. This is not only the stuff of improvisation and genius but of dedication. No matter the odds, the players were willing to lay it on the line for Ghana. And yet, coach Gyamfi has still not got his pension and is fed up of chasing it.

And that leads me to how we think of rewarding our players. Football players have relatively short time spans to earn good money. At the just-ended African Cup of Nations there was some grumbling at the bonuses that the players earned after winning. There was also some talk about whether the earnings should be taxed. And yet, not everyone earns Michael Essien money. These players typically have a six to ten year period of maximum contract money. They play professionally and competitively until their mid- late 30s and rarely beyond that. That gives them another 40 or so years to earn a living other than playing or live on their riches depending on how you look at it. Given the backgrounds of many of our players, their options are limited in retirement. Saying they should be paid less than what they earn should be taken within this context. Is it patriotic on our part to deny them what their value at the peak of their athletic prowess is? Tough question. How many of us when told to take pay cuts when we are valued at a certain number for mother Ghana would take that cut? Again, tough question but hopefully thought provoking.

For more pictures on the PFAG launch, check this link out. Sorry for the graininess of the pictures.

2 thoughts on “Patriotism

  1. Interesting article. I dont think Ghanaian fans suffer from a lack of enthusiasim, i think when people start threatening players who miss chances (a la Asmoah Gyan in CAN 2008), it is a pure indication that the fans are a little too emotionally invested in things..we all want Ghana to win, we will scream, shout, and paint our bodies to prove it. I dont think Govt should worry about the people getting behind the team,they will, always have, and always will… When the warm ups with the netherlands and latvia kick off we will start seeing people donning the red gold and green.
    A quick note about the players association, its a great idea to have a union fighting for the rights of players especially the less established ones. I would like to add though that representing your country is a catch 22. Yes, players give alot to be there, and they should be adequately compensated. However, playing on the world stage with scouts watching benefits them as well. In short its within their best interest to try and make the cut, alot of Ghanaian players have secured big contracts becuase they represented Ghana in some international tournament.

    • Saleh, I agree that it’s also in their best interests but I think if you look at it carefully, many of them don’t actually earn that huge a living as we make it. Of course, compared to the ordinary Ghanaian yes they do. But you have to figure that they live in Europe which is also expensive. If they buy a house, that’s mortgage. Then paying your agent. And paying someone here and there. And don’t forget the CHILLING!!! In no time, your 30,000 a week contract which you earn for six seven years is gone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s