President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday set the nation on the path to claim its rightful place in continental and global football when he launched a $15-million fundraiser from Corporate Ghana to support the Black Stars’ bid to win the AFCON 2022 in Cameroun and reach at least the semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
He announced that the national team would require $25 million for the two campaigns, and that as its commitment, the government was providing $10 million of the amount. Those leading the charge to raise the funds are the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Mustapha Ussif; the Deputy Minister designate for Youth and Sports, Mr Evans Opoku Bobbie; the President of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Mr Kurt Okraku, and a former Black Stars defender, Sammy Kufuor, representing the coach of the team.
“I have called you out here this morning to lay these facts before you and to ask you, from the bottom of my heart, to help in raising this amount to support the progress of the Black Stars,” he charged the team. He appealed to captains of industry to join him in that respect and together make the Black Stars a force to reckon with once again on the continent and in world football.
World Cup, AFCON participation
It has been 39 years since the Black Stars last won the AFCON at the tournament held in Libya. Ghana participated in the FIFA World Cup tournaments in 2006, 2010 and 2014. In 2006, the Black Stars reached the second round, while in the 2010 tournament the team reached the quarter-finals, where they were bundled out by Uruguay. In the 2014 World, Ghana was eliminated in the group stage.
The Black Stars are four times AFCON winners — 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 — and runners-up on five occasions — 1968, 1970, 1992, 2010 and 2015.
Describing football as “the great passion of our people”, President Akufo-Addo explained that a successful Ghana in the world game would bring credit to all Ghanaians and open up more doors for Ghanaians and their businesses.
“Bringing back the smiles on the faces of our people is priceless, as the ripple effect will be felt in all aspects of our lives and in our respective organisations. So I am asking all of you to contribute to raise the balance of this amount, which is $15 million,” he stated.
An ardent football fan himself, the President said the Black Stars were an integral part of the “legend of Ghana”. He recounted how, as an 18-year-old in the 1960s, he had witnessed how Ohene Gyan persuaded the Spanish giants, Real Madrid, to play the Black Stars at the
Accra Sports Stadium, where the Black Stars recorded a respectable draw against the mightiest of European club teams. President Akufo-Addo said almost 40 years was too long a time for the national football team to claim a continental trophy, for which reason he had charged them to bring back the lost glory.
The President indicated that the target was to bring the cup home next year by winning AFCON 2022 because the team had to go a step further than the second places recorded in 1992, 2010 and 2015 and bring the 40-year drought to an end.
“We must also reach at least the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar. Our exploits in South Africa in 2010, where we reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, tell us that once properly prepared, we have the quality and the talent to match any of the best teams in the world. The task may appear daunting, but it is certainly not insurmountable,” he said.
Mr Yussif said to address the issue of sports financing, the Ministry of Sports had submitted a proposal to the Cabinet for approval to establish a dedicated Sports Fund to bridge the cap in sports funding. He said all over the world, sports had played a very instrumental role in promoting multiple sectors, such as manufacturing, retailing, media, sports tourism, the hospitality industry and national cohesion.
Mr Yussif said the critical aspect in realising that goal was adequate funding, which aided the development of sports facilities, the provision of training equipment and the granting of scholarships and incentives to athletes.
He said despite the increasing budgetary support for sports in the last four years, there was every indication that the government alone could not shoulder the burden, hence the call for corporate support.