Episode 1: The economic deficits of the exit of Wa All Stars FC from the Upper  West Region

Association football is one avenue that provides employment to varied group of people both on the direct and indirect scale. The average sachet water at the stadium doesn’t need to have football background before he or she is employed in the sector just like the graphic designer sitting in the comfort of his computer room, miles away from the stadium. The hospitality industry has no linkage with football administration but are direct beneficiaries of the game across the planet. The football industry is a typical network of producers, retailers, direct consumers and indirect consumers with or without football affiliation.

Having witnessed topflight football for the first and last time in 1990/91 campaign, Upper West Region have been carved out of the football map on the national radar. They endured football dumsor for 17 years until the arrival of Wa All Stars FC on the Ghanaian topflight. A triumphant game in the middle league against Catholic Stars on March 24, 2007, gave football independence to the upper west region. Eleven mercenaries from the region fought gallantly and returned home with national cake, Yussif Ali and Robert Dabuo, the two goalkeepers for the soul searching exercise were carried shoulder high. Alex Ayeh, the goal scoring hero in the 3-0 thrashing of Catholic Stars, was mobbed, celebrated and eulogized across the region. At long last, Asante Kotoko SC will come visiting, the Oak family will storm the Wa Park and the premier league super stars, seen on television, will grace the pitch at the Wa Park.

The virtual jubilation transformed into economic gains on December 9, 2007, when Real Tamale United FC visited as Premier league rivals. They were the first of 33 other premier league teams to visit the Wa Park in 3,829 days. From the traditional pride, political bragging rights all the way to sporting excitement, the length and breadth of the region had representation across board. The Wa Park, located in the regional capital, resonated in decibels. Voices vibrated, traditional drums took center stage, young footballers gained independence and parents had reasons to invest in their wards. This excitement stayed with the people of upper west for the next 3, 829 days, led by the triumphant 2016 campaign.   Iconic 11 topflight seasons provided employment to hundreds of people in the region with over 50 players from the region gracing the pitch as denizens of the region. The employment avenue ended on June 2, 2018 with a 1-0 win over Techiman Eleven Wonders FC. For the statistical pack, Maxwell Oppong’s 41st minute winner was the last premier league goal for Wa All Stars at the Wa Park.

On the economic radar, Wa All Stars FC benefited varied class of workers ranging from players, administrators, medics, media personnel, hospitality industry workers, musicians, graphic designers, food vendors, and even the butchers.  The club gave direct employment to football administrators, professional footballers, medics and paramedics, masseurs and physiotherapists, equipment officers, media personnel, graphics designers and provided avenues for other facets of the economy to boom. Food vendors, sachet water sellers, hospitality industry (hotels), and other such secondary beneficiaries make up the second class of employment chain provided on match days. From Upland( a famous hotel facility in the region), to Blue Hills, Saint B Lodge, Te3gberi, Amaanah Inn, Queens Valley Empire and other top class hotel facilities in the region, Wa All Stars provided more than just entertainment.

On match days, the average sachet water seller, generates hundreds of cedis to  take care of her siblings. She use to cart between 50-100 bags of sachet water on peak days, aside selling energy drinks and other beverages. It created an employment avenue for the tricycle riders and the retailers. School children sometimes come to help this woman in the selling of this sachet water to be given commission at the end of the day. Their source of commission left upper west region on June 2, 2018.

On the transport sector, ‘camboo’ drivers use to cart football loving fans to and from the stadium between GH¢1 and GH¢5 on every match day. Their source of livelihood boosted on match days although they are(were) not fans of the game. The trickledown effect of Wa All Stars FC virtually affected every single soul in the region, directly or indirectly.

Traders at the Wa Market, specialist in Smoke weaving, producers of local shea butter and other home based artifacts, were all patronized during the era of Wa All Stars FC. A typical case was when Wa All Stars FC hosted Aduana Stars on September 14, 2016, in that winner takes all clash at the Wa Park. A total of 18 VIP buses stormed the region with supporters from Brong Ahafo region saw the economical index in the region raised to exponential digits. Traders sold their goods at faster pace, food vendors fed the entire visiting team and the media on match day. The region benefited, Enos Adipah Kwame became a cult hero, youthful footballers saw the need to raise their game and reach the pinnacle of the game.

An investigation to clean Ghana Football Association of long term corruption scandal, ended up detaching Wa from the football map. It was an exercise that dented the image of the Ghana FA, ended the careers of many football administrators and officials, left Ghana Football under intensive care unit, but most painfully, took the pride of Northern Ghana away. Club owner, Kwesi Nyantakyi, remains a celebrated figure in the eyes of many football fans in the region despite the enslaved nature of his football life at the moments. The hopes of the region are solely on the shoulders of Wa Suntaa SC under the leadership of Kandumah Abdul Aziz John.

By: Saani Abacha

Editor, 442gh.com

Follow on Twitter @Saani_abacha

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