Ayishatu Zakaria Writes: When the Black Queens are deserted by Sports Ministry

The senior women’s national football team of Ghana is controlled by the Ghana Football Association. They are nicknamed the Black Queens and are the first national soccer team (yes not your Black stars) to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

They were at the third edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted and won by the United States in 1999.

The current head coach of the team, 45 years old former player and referee was part of the first squad that represented the nation at the 1999 World Cup.

Some of the players who played for Ghana in the 1999 Women’s World Cup rose to the highest pinnacle of Africa football with Alberta Sackey and Adjoa Bayor winning the 2002 and 2003 Africa Female Footballer of the Year respectively.

The team is currently ranked 53 on the FIFA Women’s ranking. Their highest was 42 (June 2008) and lowest was 53 (July 2003) and this year.

Enough of the accolades, right?

With these achievements, ideally the team should be getting some good treatment when preparing for major assignments than what we are witnessing.

A quarter of what the Black Stars are given won’t be out of place since both, are the senior teams of mother GHANA.

The Black Queens are at the Mariset Plaza Hotel, Osu ahead of their Tokyo 2020 qualifier against Kenya next month.

The team advanced to the this stage of Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers after easing past the Les Panthers of Gabon by 5-0 on aggregate with literally no motivation or support (morally or financially) from the Sports Ministry, GFA, media or even Ghanaians.

The first leg is scheduled to be played at the Accra Sports Stadium on Friday 4th October and the second leg in Kenya four days later.

They’ve been neglected, ignored, deserted and forsaken by the country and the people they are defying all odds to make proud.

I visited the team at their camp and I was totally shuttered by what I heard. I felt ashamed of myself as a Ghanaian and a journalist because I haven’t done enough to help my Queens.

I spoke with the acting captain of the Black Queens, Priscilla Okyere who plies her professional career at Spanish Liga Iberdrola side Rayo Vallecano after the Ghana Women’s Rugby team made a donation to them and she bemoaned.

“We are grateful for what they have done for us; it makes us realize that all hope is not lost because honestly we felt we are all alone during this period.

“But they have given us hope and we that there are others there thinking about us and we will do all it takes within our powers to qualify,” she said soberly.

“We are more focused on the qualifiers because we want to make history. Olympics has eluded us for years and we are ready to make Ghana proud no matter the problems we are facing”.

“It has not been easy for us. We feel neglected because no one has visited us and not even the money that is due us has been paid. But we are not giving up because we know it will definitely come,” she disclosed.

The team has not received a penny from the Sports Ministry in a form of per diem or even winning bonus.

Guess what, they didn’t even get a pesewa when they were camping in Ghana for the WAFU games held in Ivory Coast.

They didn’t get a pesewa when they were camping ahead of the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers to play Gabon which they eventually won both legs.

The team is entitled to a winning bonus by law but they haven’t received a pesewa and shocking enough, there’s no communication as to when they will get their monies or even how much they will be getting.

Before you asked why the ladies or the technical team are not complaining, a close source in the camp revealed to me that they are scared of getting fired or sack from camp when they speak and demand for what is duly theirs.

The Sports Minister, Hon. Isaac Kwame Asiamah revealed on the floor of Ghana Parliament that the nation spent $4.5 million just for the country’s participation in the 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations competition.

In the Minister’s own words, he said: “Ghana budgeted US$6.3 million for the Black Stars training camp and AFCON campaign, out of that, $4.5 million was used.”

This was the amount of money spent on a team that exited at the round of 16 dashing the country’s hope of ending its 37 year trophy drought.

The amount spent is equivalent to the amount Algeria received as prize money for winning the entire tournament in Egypt.

For the records, the only organizations that visited the team ahead of their games with Gabon are the Professional Footballers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) together with Ghana Rugby Football Union.

Interestingly, the Black Queens are not the only national team suffering as the Black Princesses (U20), Black Maidens (U17) and unpopular sports such Athletics, Tennis, Swimming, Rugby etc are all suffering in the country.

The Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) board member and captain of the Ghana women’s Rugby team, Ms Rafatu Inusah shared her thoughts with me on this issue.

“When you look at sports in Ghana, we, the women have been neglected. They don’t respect us, they don’t think about what we can to the help our families, communities and the nation as a whole.

“So when I heard the issue of the Black Queens and how they have been neglected, I felt bad. We gave them some monies to buy some of their needs, far as they are in a hotel, they will need to buys some things.

“Government or the Ministry doesn’t support us. We haven’t received a penny from Government for four years. Our president, Mr. Herbert Mensah does everything with some support from our sponsors and ourselves,” she postulated.

The challenges with our female national teams have been in existence since time immemorial but we had high hope following the appointment of Hon. Asiamah as the Sports Minister.

Sadly, the story seems unchanged and the neglect appear skyrocketing, even now.

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