In the management of every successful organization or association, premium is placed on its corporate responsibility. Many well-endowed companies will tell you if you take from a community, it is just prudent and in line to give back to that community. Indeed, for some of us who profess Christianity, we will tell you there is blessing in giving than receiving. Fairly, this responsibility may seem odd to an association like the Ghana Football Association, who may claim indisposition when it comes to doling out to society. Nonetheless, it is important that for success to be well guaranteed ahead of time, social responsibility should be given an extra attention by the Ghana Football Association. Even the mother association of football, FIFA, regards social responsibility a key component to its activities. No wonder, it has gone extra lengths to provide social amenities in some deprived countries. For some of us, who have been involved in FIFA’s ‘Football For Hope’ project in one way or the other, football will continue to reap resounding successes and I can vouch for that.
Luckily enough, FIFA’s social responsibility has trickled down to the regional football associations, who are embarking upon projects to prosecute the agenda of bringing health and wealth to certain underprivileged communities. For example, UEFA’s charitable project such as ‘Eat For Goals’ involves thirteen players helping out some underprivileged pupils in the region. Besides, UEFA awards a deserving body its annual €1m charity cheque at the Monaco events which kick off each European club competition season. The Monaco Charity Award was first launched in 1998. Streetfootballworld was the recipient of the 2011 UEFA Monaco Charity Award. In 2010 also, a match against poverty was organized by UEFA at the home grounds of Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece. The Asian Football Confederations (AFC) also have several projects including ‘Midnight Football’ aimed at helping the under-privileged. It’s all about social responsibility. Even our own Confederation of African Football, in an effort to help the development of the game on each and every member country, has resolved to give the hosting rights of its tournaments to countries that are relatively unknown when it comes to football on the continent. This may seem implicit but that is the underlying criterion. No wonder, countries like Rwanda, Gabon, Niger and Equatorial Guinea will be given the rights to host some of the continent’s tournaments. For Equatorial Guinea, for instance, getting the rights to co-host the Africa Cup of Nations, CAF’s flagship tournament, in which they have no experience, can only give them an opportunity to improve upon their facilities and the way the sport is administered in that country.
Donating to orphanages
With the implicit purpose of improving upon facilities in a country, CAF is sending signals to its member associations to also invest in this area. However, it appears most member associations have rather busied themselves with the game and turned a blind eye to the entities which are largely affected by results – fans. I must quickly write that this is a problem strictly on the head of the associations and not footballers in some cases. Yes!!
In Ghana, for instance, when there is a break in club football, most of the foreign-based players go into donating to orphanages across the length and breadth of the country. It is even archly bruited about that orphanages scramble for the players to, as it were, come to their aid. I doff my hat to the players who have made it a must-do every time they are on holidays! I just hope they are not being forced to do it and that it is coming genuinely from their hearts!
GFA…and Horn of Africa
The question I always ask myself, given the contribution FIFA and even CAF is giving in the area of social responsibility is when at all will the Ghana Football Association also embark upon a project to that effect?
On 4th August, 2011, I had an email from CAF informing media personnel on a direction to all member associations to organize friendly football matches to help victims of drought in the Horn of Africa.
“As you are well aware, the horn of Africa is facing serious drought, affecting 13 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Uganda,” President Issa Hayatou’s statement read. “Urgent humanitarian support is needed for these countries. The African football family cannot stay without reacting to this severe food crisis. I would like you to mobilise football clubs in your country, and organise a solidarity match; revenues will be distributed to an institution of your choice to support projects related to famine in the horn of Africa,” implored Hayatou.
Indeed, a friendly match involving the Black Stars, who are arguably the most popular team on the continent at least then and now, would have generated lots of proceed to help our brothers and sisters in this region. I met the GFA president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, after the 2011 PLB Awards at the State Banquet Hall to find out whether he and his team were planning anything to that effect. He told me they had just received the letter from CAF and are yet to discuss how best they can help. I met Kwesi Nyantakyi again – this time after the Black Stars’ training ahead of the Swaziland Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier at the Accra Sports Stadium – and he just told me the Black Stars had a busy schedule and they will see whether they can factor that into the itinerary before the year ends. I refused to ask Kwesi Nyantakyi about it the last time I saw him since I thought it will be pestering him and the Black Stars into something they are loath to do. It took another directive from CAF for captains to read out an advocacy in solidarity for the Horn of Africa for Ghana to do something on the issue. I wonder whether John Mensah even knew the reason why he read that before the Ghana-Sudan tie though he got his first goal for the Black Stars in that match.
What the executives of the Ghana Football Association must be made aware of, especially going into a tournament the Black Stars are favourites to win, is that giving can only result in receiving. If they are ready to give and exercise a social responsibility in prosecuting CAF’s directive, Ghana or the Black Stars may receive an unexpected laurel. It could come in the form of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. I remember in 2009 in Rwanda, the Black Satellites became the toast of Rwandans across the length and breadth of Kigali owing to the social responsibility exhibited by the team led by Andre Dede Ayew and Samuel Inkoom. Their kind gesture brought luck on the entire team. That elixir even followed them to Egypt, where they conquered the world.
The Black Stars, at this crucial moment, is expected to shine in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea but I will insist that that prize can only come after a hard training and a heart willing to give and as the players execute the former, the Ghana Football Association must spearhead the latter.