It was late in the evening. For the pass one and half hours, my family along with some two friends have been keenly glued to our television watching a football match. My dad rarely watched football, his interest had waned decades ago. But there he was, watching a football match and motionless for most part of the match. It was no ordinary football match (at least for Ghanaians). Above the sandy deserts of the Sahara, in the land of the pharaohs, the Black Satellites had huff and puff for two hours of football. In facts, the team had barely created any chance of note against a technically gifted Brazilian side. Two years prior, the Black Starlets had beaten the Samba boys by a lone goal. The Brazilians were inconsolable on that day, crying longer than the duration of the match. Therefore, the match was billed as an opportunity for vengeance by the now more matured Brazilians.
The match ended up in a penalty shoot-out and the Satellites won thanks to some great saves by Daniel Adjei the then Liberty Professionals goalkeeper. We all celebrated together, and the celebrations went even deeper into the night on the principal streets of Osu. Domnic Adiyiah, the top goal scorer of the competition was also adjudged the tournament’s best player. What a day to be alive! This was indeed the golden generation. They had eclipsed the achievement of Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien’s satellites which fell short of glory in….
Ten years on from that remarkable achievement, the biggest question now is what happened to the golden generation? Emmanuel Agyemang Badu has had his career stalled at Udinese but compared to his colleagues, he has done exceptionally well. Andre Dede Ayew (who was born in France) is arguably the most successful of them all having played at the top divisions in France and England for about a decade. He was perhaps one of the least talented in the side but has forged a remarkable career for himself considering he never had paced to burn along with an average dribbling ability. The least said about the supremely talented due of Ransford Osei and Dominic Adiyiah, the better. So, what happened to our golden generation. There are myriad of excuses that can be given for their success or lack of it thereof. But the biggest allegation is surprise they cheated. The players may not have been the age they claimed to be. However, this can only be an allegation till someone backs it with solid evidence. Nonetheless, age cheating is rife in Ghana football and no one can deny that.
Age fraud is quite a known assertion in the game of football. Arguably age cheating gives an undue advantage to a football side against its opponent. Age cheating is common in places where birth records are not easily verified. Africa happens to be one of the main continents if not the main continent that produces footballers who cheat their way through the game. In Ghana to know of a footballer’s age be sure to ask these two questions; what is your football age? Then go on to ask, what your actual age? Trust me footballers in this part of our word see age in two dimensions.
But can we blame them? Or do we blame the system? Young football talents find it difficult to get opportunities into football academies. How many football academies can Ghana boast of? These talents after fighting the odds to become footballers because in Ghana breaking the news that you want to become a footballer to your family may not be such an easy job since most families are more interested in their children becoming academicians, the football talent also has to fight his way to get an opportunity to be trained in an academy. In most cases, these football talents trained so hard for years before they are recognized by foreign academies on scouts for talents. So, sometimes after the hard work they get an opportunity, however a young person will be preferable to an academy, so the players end up cheating their way through.
As we are proudly independent after sixty-two years, let’s put in place structures that will help the younger generation. As football has become a global game which brings high earnings, lets help young talents develop their career in football by creating room for football academies and enriching our league to a better standard to help curtail age cheating in football.
WWW.TheHawkGhana.Com/Eugenia Akweley Richman/2019