Bring back the love of juvenile football
The glittering moment of Ghana football has diminished drastically due to the neglect of the colt’s system.
Football loving fans do no longer patronize the game because they do not enjoy the most intriguing and entertaining skills of the typical Ghanaian game. All boils down to the fact that players do not mature in the game before getting to the bigger stage; the development structures no more exist.
Decades ago, grassroots football was superior and drew support from across the length and breadth of various communities. Seasoned community games were massive and true talents were discovered. The basic schools league was one avenue where talents were unearthed and groomed from the schools to zonal, district, regional and the national levels.
The inter-schools and colleges competitions organised for secondary schools and colleges, was also principal in the development of football in the country. The colt’s league which saw hundreds and thousands thronged to centres like Asem, Tafo, Suame, Ashiaman, Tema, etc, was a delight to watch.
Today, all these structures are left in limbo. Little or no attention is given to the juvenile structures which laid the foundation for Ghana football. School competitions are haphazardly organised; colt’s teams are dying out and football academies are struggling to survive.
In this modern era where football has become a profitable commodity as gold, many football fields that were used by some communities and colts teams have been turned to building sites.
The juvenile football which is popularly known as “Colts Football” was the main building blocks for football players from the 70s. Great talents like AbediAyew Pele, Stephen Appiah, AsamoahGyan, MichealEssien and many others, passed through the colts system to the world stage. Today, these names are household names, not only in Ghana but also, throughout the continent and across the globe.
The days of colt’s teams like Corners Babies, Anokye Stars, Great Falcons; Mighty Victory, Owareman, Dawu Youngsters, etc, are no more as strong as they used to be. They are lost in the mirrors of talent development.
Why should it be so? Have we as people and stakeholders of the game, considered why league matches are played in virtually empty stadia whilst sports betting and DSTV centres get choked with fans?
Player development structures have been strengthened across Europe. League clubs and non-league clubs have Academies or Centres of Excellence, and development scheme or community projects respectively. How many premier clubs in Ghana have academies or youth development system?
In Spain, the structures are such that, aside the clubs’ development, there is provincial and national structures at all levels of development (i.e. U10, U13, U15, U17, U19 and U21) with five players for each position. This is the reason why foreign clubs likeBarcelona, Real Madrid,Chelsea and Manchester United have amassed gargantuan fan base in Ghana than our own local clubs.
All stakeholders must put their hands on deck to revive the spirit of Ghana football through the juvenile development. The Ghana Football Association (GFA), the Ministry of Youth and Sports and National Sports Authority must engage in extensive deliberations and collaboration to find solid measures to mitigate the numerous challenges facing the juvenile sector.Training centres must be constructed across the country to ensure accessibility. Technical and professional training should be organised for colt club owners and coaches to enhance physical, psychological and technical development of players. Financial and motivational support should be facilitated to liberate juvenile clubs.
The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service must ensure the teaching of Physical Education at all levels of education. It is said that “sound mind resides in sound body.” Schools must be adequately resourced to organize effective sports festivals to prepare athletes for the future.
Corporate entities and individuals should emulate the likes of McDan and Baby Jet Foundation to sponsor and organise juvenile sports competitions across the country. Media organisations must dedicate space in their airings to support the juvenile system.
For our national teams to bounce back to title winning ways, we must turn our attention to the juvenile development and give it the necessary support and love it deserves. Let us bring back the love of juvenile football. –The writer is a student of GIJ
Source: Ghanaian Times