For­get Africa’s Mu­gabe and other fat cats — Ghana

PETER ROE­BUCK on Ghana’s rise and rise.

Weekend Witness - - Talking Sport -

GHANA con­tinue to light the path for­wards. For­get about the evil do­ers, Mu­gabe, rich peo­ple driv­ing Mercedes and pay­ing mis­er­able wages, Malema, the loath­some fat cats of Zim­bab­wean cricket and oth­ers hell-bent on bring­ing Africa to its knees as they fill their al­ready bulging bank ac­counts. Fo­cus in­stead upon the Black Stars’ in­struc­tive achieve­ment in sur­viv­ing a tough group to reach the last 16 of this fine World Cup (friends at­tend­ing matches in Dur­ban at­test to the car­ni­val at­mos­phere, ex­cel­lent or­gan­i­sa­tion and the friend­li­ness of the vol­un­teers).

Ghana was the first African nation to se­cure its lib­er­a­tion. Bar­rack Obama’s first over­seas visit was to Ghana. It is a gen­uinely demo­cratic coun­try whose gov­ern­ments sub­mit them­selves to gen­uine elec­tions and ac­cept the re­sult (mean­while the ANC re­sists the re­lease of its re­port into the fraud­u­lent Zim­bab­wean elec­tion of 2002).

Of course, it is not a co­in­ci­dence that this nation of all African na­tions has again ad­vanced into the later stages. Ghana­ian soc­cer is prop­erly run. Ad­min­is­tra­tors are ac­count­able. Sport min­is­ters can­not run around talk­ing through their hats, which is the fashion here­abouts. Al­though nar­rowly beaten by the Ger­mans in their last match, they played with a ma­tu­rity and skill sug­gest­ing that they can go fur­ther. And that is with­out Michael Essien, one of the giants of the game.

It’s the same in cricket. Part of the rea­son Pak­istan, Bangladesh and Zim­babwe have been in­ept is that of­fi­cials are not ac­count­able to any­one ex­cept their po­lit­i­cal pay­mas­ters. It breeds self-in­ter­est, sweet tongues and in­ac­tiv­ity.

It’d be worth con­sult­ing the Ghana­ians and vis­it­ing the Ivory Coast Academy where strong val­ues are in­stilled.

Over­all, the World Cup has been en­joy­able. Its de­lights have in­cluded the dis­in­te­gra­tion of an ar­ro­gant French side, the panache of the Por­tuguese, the pride of the Ki­wis, the rally of the Aus­tralians, the progress of the demo­cratic Kore­ans, the grit of the Ghana­ians, the ad­ven­ture of the Ar­gen­tineans and the pol­ish of the Brazil­ians. Soc­cer has been ex­tremely lucky in its lead­ing team. Cham­pi­ons are sup­posed to em­body the best the game has to of­fer, a task the Samba boys mostly ful­fil

But two weak points have emerged, nei­ther of them the host coun­try’s fault. Over­all, the ref­er­ees have been good, es­pe­cially those pre­pared to let the play­ers get on with the game. Alas, a few have spoilt matches by end­lessly flash­ing yel­low cards and stop­ping play for ev­ery mi­nor in­fringe­ment. It is sup­posed to be a man’s game not a tea party.

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