I have been monitoring comments from both the print and the electronic media since the election and swearing in of the new Ghana Football Association (GFA) Executive Council, calling on the Kurt Okraku led council to revert to the national team’s previous jersey which had the national colours of Ghana (red, yellow and green) with the Black Star symbol in it.
Those who make these comments attribute superstition to the Black Stars inability to win the Africa Cup of Nations since winning their fourth title in Libya 1982.
They believe that the current national team jersey (white and black) is the reason for the stars continuous failure, and reverting to the previous red, yellow and green coloured jersey will change the fortunes of the Black Stars.
For anyone to link the stars failure to win the AFCON in almost four decades to the colours of their jersey is complete ignorance.
Infact, Ghana did not wear the so called “Lucky Jersey” when they won the Africa Cup of Nations for then record four times (1963, 1965,1978 and 1982).
Ghana wore either all white or white with black shorts with the national colours embroiled on either on the shoulder or on the chest during the golden era.
The white and black jersey was Ghana’s original jersey before the red, yellow and green colour was introduced.
You can argue that, the black and white do not look Ghanaian and I will agree with you, but to attribute Ghana’s failure to win the AFCON to colour of jersey is totally the opposite.
The red, yellow and green jersey never won any major trophy for Ghana at senior level. The only success with that jersey was at Under-17 level, and even that, some people believe that the Starlets were successful because of age cheating.
With the current white and black jersey, apart from winning the AFCON four times, the national under-20 team, the Black Satellites also won the FIFA Under -20 World Cup in 2009, and to date Ghana is the only African country to win the competition since the inaugural tournament in 1977.
Between 1982 (the last time Ghana won the AFCON) and 2002 (the last time the Black Stars used the jersey which bears the national colours of Ghana), the Stars best performance in the AFCON was a single final appearance in 1992 (l. Cote d’Ivoire), and a semi-final appearance in 1996 where they were thrashed 3-0 by host, South Africa.
With the white and black jersey, Ghana has qualifed for semi-final of all but only 2019 since 2008.
Ghana also made it to the quarter – finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Ghana did not win the four Africa Cup of Nations titles because of colour of jerseys. They won because of proper planning which started after Ghana gained indepence. Ghana has failed because of lack of political will and poor planning from administrators.
After indepence, the relationship between football and the politics in the administration of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) cannot be underestimatd.
Around 1960, Dr Kwame Nkrumah publicly declared his reasons for promoting sports and football in particular in the country.
In one of his speeches to delegates of the West African Soccer Federation in the Ambassador Hotel in Accra, he noted that: “Knowing the tremendous part that sports can play in development of the African personality, I propose to encourage its promotion here in Ghana.”
On June 12, 1960, in a message to the Annual Conference of the Ghana Amateur Football Federation (GAFA) at Ho, Nkrumah hinted the formation of a model club.
Among other things Osagyefo said:
“My interest in soccer is so keen that I promise, in the near future, to encourage the formation of a model football club which will offer leadership and inspiration to football clubs in the country.
“This club shall be known as ‘Ghana Republikans’ to commemorate the launching of your Three -Year – Development Plan in the year of our Republic.
“I need not remind you that football is now in the forefront of Ghana. It is in fact our national game.”
The government was committed to development of football and sports in general in the country hence the success story of that era.
After Ghana attained independence in 1957, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah began to send his trusted associates around the world to seek some milk to feed the growth of new born baby Ghana. Kojo Botsio, who had become friends with Nkrumah as students during the 1940s in the United kingdom, was one of them.
In other to achieve this objective of sports development, former international players Emmanuel Christian Briandt and James Adjaye from football and Nii Ayikai Adjin Tetteh and John Asare Antwi from athletics were sent to Germany to train as coaches.
C.K. Gyamfi was the third Ghanaian footballer to train as coach. In 1960, Ohene Djan, Director of Sports sent him to Germany to study, and he returned to work for GAFA as coach, working in various capacities while understudying the national team coach Josef Ember – a Hungarian.
In January 1961, Ohene Djan announced that eight more former international players would be sent to Prague for a four month coaching course to help train players from the various regions.
The players included : Timothy Darbah, Ben Sissuh, Asebi Boakye, Ben Koufie, A.K. Ekudi, Solomon Grey and Baba Yipa.
It is clear that there was a national policy towards achieving results.
In 1963, due to financial constraints facing the Central Organisation of Sports (C.O.S) , Josef Ember, was laid off and replaced by his assistant C.K. Gyamfi, it turned out to fit properly into the bigger plan of projecting the African personality by Nkrumah.
When C.K. Gyamfi won the 1963 Gold Cup, almost immediately after becoming head coach, Ohene Djan was quick to praise him and the feat he had just achieved.
“On this momentous occasion, we salute national coach Gyamfi who has amply justified the confidence placed in him by the C.O.S and abundantly demonstrated that the Ghanaian African when given the opportunity is capable of achieving wonders.”
C.K. Gyamfi would go on to lead the team to win the Africa Nations Cup in 1963 and 1965 as well as lead the team to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and to win the Azikwe Cup for keeps in 1965.
He returned to lead the Black Stars to their 4th and last Africa Cup of Nations title in Libya.
In 1978, when Ghana won it’s third continental title, the then Head of State, General Ignatius Kuntu Acheampong, was also Commissioner of Sports, and had appointed Col. Simpe – Asante as his personal assistant. So, the government’s love for sports was very high.
Due to this, they arranged for the Black Stars to go on a pre – tournament training tour in Brazil for the second time to prepare them adequately for the tournament.
Ghana won the Africa Cup of Nations four times because they had visionary leaders and committed players who were willing to ‘die’ for their motherland.
Ghana won because there was a United support front. Let us do away with politics when it comes to the national teams.
With the right short, medium and long term goals, Ghana can conquer Africa again. ‘Jerseys do not play football.
By: George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah