President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reiterated his appeal to help raise $15 million to help prepare and position the senior national male football team, the Black Stars, for the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the World Cup in the same year.
He has thus called on financial institutions in the country to assist in raising the amount for the two competitions as the collective effort would help the national team to be successful, bring smiles back on the faces of Ghanaians and secure honour for the country which would ignite and inspire success in all areas of national endeavour.
President Akufo-Addo made the call at a breakfast fundraising at the Jubilee House with captains of over 50 financial institutions to mobilise contribution for the national team.
The Stars require $25 million for their 2022 AFCON and World Cup campaigns, but the government had pledged to provide 10 million of that amount
The President introduced the team which is at the forefront of the mobilisation of the funds. It is made up of 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 former Black Stars defender, Sammy Osei Kufuor, representing the Coach of the Black Stars.
Recounting the past glorious days of the Black Stars, crowned four times as African champions in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982, President Akufo-Addo said the team was the dominant force in competitions, putting its name everywhere and making it a greater symbol of the country.
The President said next year would be exactly 40 years since the team last won the competition, although it had been in final and semi-finals several times in the last decade.
“I think that the Ghanaian spirit yearns for us to be once again the number one in African football and to come back from Yaoundé with the AFCON 2022 cup. The team qualified impressively for the AFCON and came tops of their group”
President Akufo-Addo said in the same manner, the team had eight qualifying matches to play to make it to the World Cup in Qatar next year and the managers had decided to add two international friendlies in Europe as part of preparations for the participation in Qatar 2022.
The President said getting the team to the competitions and helping them to succeed would require resources, but the finances of the government even in the best of times were not the healthiest, coupled with the recent COVID-19, which meant that the public kitty had taken a very big hit which the government was gradually trying to repair.
“We will need your assistance for that final lap the team would run to bring the country the cup,” President Akufo-Addo said, stressing that without adequate support, it would be difficult to make good presentation at the championship.
He said he was aware some of the financial institutions were hit by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic but some of them also did very well and stated that collectively they all pooled resources to assist the Black Stars
President Akufo-Addo said the intrinsic benefits of the success of the Black Stars in international competitions could not be over-emphasised, saying “ the success in the competitions is an exercise that would be an uplifting factor for the work as a nation” and thus urged all to “come and assist me prepare the Black Stars for these two important competitions ahead of us”.
“Everywhere in the world, success on the football field and in sports have had a way of igniting and inspiring success virtually in all aspects of national endeavour.”
He indicated that when this was realised, it would benefit business and individuals across the board.
President Akufo-Addo said he was aware that the Black Stars did not constitute the totality of the country’s sporting structure, but there were other aspects of sports, teams and institutions that also required assistance, but at the same time, there was always a cutting edge and that cutting edge was what the Black Stars provided.
The Minister of Youth and Sports said to address the issue of sports financing, the ministry had submitted a proposal to cabinet for approval to establish a dedicated Sports Fund to bridge the gap in sports funding.
He said all over the world the development of sports had played a very instrumental role in promoting multiple sectors such as manufacturing, retailing, media, sports tourism, hospitality industry and national cohesion.
The Chief Executive of Standards Chartered Bank, Ms Mansa Nettey, who spoke on behalf of the financial institutions, said football was a discipline that brought people together and ignited excitement in Ghanaians.
She recounted their contribution as banks to support the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic even without any prompting and said “we understand the request and we are also requesting that given the short notice we will ask that we go back and consult our various boards and principals and come back.”