FEATURE: The life of a locally-based Ghanaian player - Part III

Published on: 07 December 2017

On the 17th of October, 2017, I applied for a UK visa through the TLS contact with the reference: GWF045704078 so I could visit my senior brother in the United Kingdom for his graduation ceremony and also spend the Christmas holidays as well.

Axiously waiting for a favourable response, I received a text message via my email address on 6th November, 2017 that my passport and other supporting documents which included a letter of introduction from the Ghana Football Association and the invitation from my brother had arrived back from the British council for collection.

I was denied the visa the and these were the reasons: 1.My monthly salary was low which was below €120. 2.I have no property or asset in Ghana. 3.By his Grace I have travelled to countries outside Ghana, with my ties with these countries, but the fear is that I will not return after I have exhausted my stay in the United Kingdom.

I felt disappointed because the reasons given to me did not make sense in my thinking.

The positives I took from this experience is that, if I was paid a good salary equivalent to €500, and could have acquired a house and a car from my signing-on fees and salaries, I could have met the requirements.

I am just imagining the number of locally-based players who have suffered similar fates like mine, which was not their fault after all.

Most teams in the Ghana Premier League train early or late morning from Monday to Friday. These players then turn to do "Lalasulala" (begging for food) after training, walking through the scorching sun, from stalls, shops and offices of supporters and sympathisers of clubs for money which will be used for food and transportation the next day.

Other players will visit their managers who will give daily upkeeps which they use to feed family, pay utilities and other endeavors as well.

For teams that train in the afternoon, some of their players do other jobs so they can support themselves to purchase boots and other sports equipments.

Some of the work they do are trading, teaching, working with security services, mobile money merchants, etc before they report to training in the afternoon.

With rest being one of the five pillars of optimal health, most players do not get the full rest they need for the body to relax and the muscles built during training to have its impact on performance.

This leads to injuries and dip in players' form as the league progresses.

Most players that play in the Ghana Premier League are tagged to be disrespectful and rude due to how they have handled issues confronting them. These are due to psychological issues they go through in their daily lives and some of these are finances, family problems, lack of playing time etc. It affects their performances on the pitch and training especially when they work under expatriate coaches who has not gotten any first hand information of the hustles and life of a local based player in Ghana.

Coaches want 110% of commitment from these players so they can excel and achieve their objectives at the end of the league season. But how can this be achieved, if the locally-based player does not have the right mind to play that role?

There have been litany of events that showed clashes between locally-based players and these expatriate coaches because both sides felt disrespected because of the other's inaction towards them.

Players cannot do simple basic training modules been introduced by these coaches or understand simple drills and techniques which makes them not adjusting to their philosophy. Will you blame these players who are going through these new training sessions for the first time in their football lives? How were these players developed as children playing football?

Some of these coaches out of their own selfish interest, sacrifice players who are giving in their all for other ones they think they can make money out of them and sell to clubs they affiliated to outside Ghana for business.

It isn't surprising that a club will have their leading goal scorer on the bench or not called at all in the 18 man squad for 10 games consistently in the Ghana Premier League.

When the coach is asked at post match interviews, he remarks the player is either sick, team unity, time is not up for him, truancy when it comes to training, not putting too much effort in training etc which does not make sense logically in thinking but yet, this same player scores all the goals in training games and puts up his best at training as well.

Why wouldn't a player come out rudely with displeasure after all he goes through all these horrible experiences in his life?

Why wouldn't he come out rudely to question behaviors which are not fair to him by coaches, when he sees he is on top form and observers are giving him thumbs up for his hard work as well?

I read a publication on Ghanasoccernet on 5th December, 2017 about the story of the former deputy captain of Bechem United, Solomon Mensah, who is not ready to renew his contract and has decided to part ways with the club.

The reason was mind boggling - he is owed salaries for 3 months.

How does he feed himself during this time and his two young siblings who are far away from him?

I know Bechem United is not the only club guilty here but other Ghana Premier League teams as well.

I recount an experience with Badu Asiamah who is a defender of Accra Great Olympics FC. He shared with me a true life story of his former team mate. He said the player took a machete and walked to the office of the club, threatening the lives of the management of his team if his signing on fees are not paid to him. The money was delivered to him the following day after the incident. Why should all these be happening to our locally-based players who are projecting the name of Ghana to the whole world?

Club owners are doing their best to make sure local players are comfortable and stay in the Ghana Premier League at the end of every football season but they can do more to help players excel and bring out the best of them.

I am Abel Manomey and a locally-based player deserves the best.