Ghana’s elite women’s football league was getting all the accolades in the 2019/20 season after an exciting first round with a total of 56 games, 156 goals, 3 Hat-tricks and 4 Hauls. Lovers of women’s football were looking forward to the second round of the league before the global outbreak set in, plunging a lot of Ghanaian players into a depressive phase due to the suspension of football activities in the country.
With Ghana’s case count of over 8,548 with 3,132 recoveries and 38 deaths as of June 03, 2020, 21:51 GMT, some Ghanaian women players have shared some insights into how they are keeping it all together.
Elizabeth Addo, captain of the Ghana’s senior national women’s team, is currently in the country after winning quadruple with Chinese Women's Super League side, Jiangsu Suning in 2019; she urges her fellow female players to continue with their individual training at home and to adhere to preventive measures to avoid contracting the virus.
“The Coronavirus disease is very serious and cases of infections keep increasing. I pray we all take it seriously and protect ourselves from it by adhering to all preventive measures”-she stated. “Thankfully and I am doing well and adhering to all the safety precautions. Everything is slow for me because of this pandemic—we can’t train as a group like before but I am doing my own training to keep fit. I will advise my fellow players to continue training at home. I pray to God and ask for healing for all affected souls and also protection for us who have not been affected. God be with us all."
Prison Ladies FC’s forward, Helena Obeng has revealed in a her recent interview on Otec FM that she is gaining weight as a result of the suspension of the league.
“I’m growing fat because I lack training time due to my job. Eating and sleeping have been a routine thing after work. The break has really affected us because we need new stamina to deliver when the league resumes.”
Obeng was part coach Yussif Basigi’s team who played in the 2018 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in France.
Milot Abena Pokua
Hasaacas Ladies FC’s Milot Abena Pokua had a wonderful first round of the season, netting 10 goals with 10 assists to emerge as one of the top scorers of the league. She cautioned the public to stay safe.
“We should follow the steps that they have been telling us--wash our hands with soap under running water and also social distancing. We pray that the sickness will go for us to have our freedom.”
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, I have been worried because we are just home with no active football. I was winning awards and scoring goals week in and week out but because of Coronavirus, everything has changed drastically.No active football and we cannot even train as a team anymore because of the ban on social gathering.”
“I am doing my personal training at home mornings and evenings to keep fit and in shape. I can only pray and hope for this virus to leave us soon for our game to resume. I believe things will get back to normal” she added.
Captain of Samaria Ladies FC, Leticia Adjei in an interview with NBSports Live also bemoaned the effect of the global pandemic, covid-19 on women football in the country.
“When football comes to an unexpected halt, female players suffer the most because without frequent training it is very difficult for girls to come back fit” she said.
“As we are experiencing this ban on social gatherings I am doing my best at home to keep fit and not to gain too much weight even though it is very difficult. I hope football comes back soon,” she said.
Prisons Ladies FC and Black Queens defender Cynthia Adobea admits how impossible it’s for her to find time and train due to her work as a Prisons Officer.
“Since the first round came to an end, I’ve not trained because I always go to work. When we start training, I know it will affect me so i have to catch up. If I have to train twice a day I’ll do so to get my fitness back.”
“I plead with the WPL Board and the GFA to try and resume the league because as ladies we gain a lot of weight when we stay at home for long,” she pleaded.
Immigration Ladies FC striker, Sylvia Nelson says she is restricted to training at home, which something is not effective compared to team training.
“Yes, it is often difficult to train by myself. I sometimes feel lazy to train but I try as much as possible because I cannot stay without training too,”.
Her fellow teammate, Faustina Kyeremeh however thinks otherwise regarding training on their own at home.
“As a player, even if there’s a ban on social gathering it does not mean that I have to sit idle at home not training or keeping fit. I train on my own because as a professional player, I need to be in shape. I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me to train before I do.”-she stated.
“I personally I believe starting the league afresh after covid-19 is the best option. I don’t think we should continue where we stopped. I pray we can overcome this global pandemic soon for things to go back to normal” she added.
President Nana Akuffo has given a go ahead to some sporting disciplines to resume their training. Football was excluded from the list of sports allowed to return to training under phase one of the easing of restrictions imposed.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Asiamah, said the protocol to be observed before football games as well as operational costs per game are huge to consider right now.
“We have had several engagements on the way forward regarding our football. I charged the NSA boss to look at playing games in empty stadia cross the country. The figure he stated presents a huge
challenge because its not only about going to play but putting in place and observing all these precautionary measures” he revealed.
“It’s risky putting players in hotels and getting them on board. How do you disinfect the various stadia across the country?.These aren’t the only things, but testing is key because you need to test each player.”
“These are the issues that we are considering and the figure that came from the NSA is about GHC 60,000 per match.”
Not knowing when the Women’s premier league will resume, the Ghana Football Association led by President Kurt E.S Okraku on Thursday 21, May, 2020 held a fruit-bearing discussion with officials of the English Football Association and the British High Commission via Webinar.
The parties discussed varied topics ranging from Women’s League football structure, understanding of women’s football in Ghana, strategy, challenges and opportunities.
Aside the GFA President, the GFA was represented by General Secretary Prosper Harrison Addo, Deputy General Secretary Alex Asante, Madam Hillary Boaten (Chairperson of the Women's Premier League Committee) and her Deputy Rosalind Amoh. Others included Cleopatra Nsiah Nketiah, Esq. – Attorney/Women’s Premier League Committee/Women's Club Owner and Barbara Yankah - Secretary to the Women’s Premier League Committee.
British High Commissioner to Ghana H.E Iain Walker and Jasmine Griffiths - Head of Strategic Partnerships and Diaspora Relations were on hand to represent the British High Commission Accra in the discussion.
National & International Women's Football Development Manager for the English FA, Rachel Pavlou led a three-member team during the discussion. The team also included Maria de León – Senior International Relations Manager and Siobhan Burke – International Relations Manager.