When a Master’s in Museums and Heritage Studies student at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Ghana, Kwame Yeboah, contacted me via Twitter months ago seeking my assistance in a school project he was undertaking, I didn’t know the full extent of his assignment despite supporting him without delay.
Yeboah wanted historical data on Asante Kotoko. I’m often handicapped. I don’t know a lot but I supplied what I knew. Months on, Yeboah would invite me to an archeological exhibition dubbed: “Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak; A Good Journey” at the Archeological Department, University of Ghana. I was enthralled.
I neither know archeology nor heritage studies. I however follow Ghana football. I’ve written on Kotoko – unofficially and officially for 20 years. I can therefore appreciate beautiful compilation of historical information on Kotoko and their rivals Hearts. And that’s what Yeboah had done, painstaking data collection involving old pictures, paraphernalia and others on the clubs dating back to the 1950s.
“When we talk of identity, it’s something that’s valued; something that’s treasured, a thing that’s recognisable” Yeboah told me. “Identity in heritage is about roots, culture, institutions, etc. Hearts and Kotoko have identity. We can identify Ghana football through Hearts and Kotoko” he added.
“These two played English, Germany and Brazilian clubs decades ago. They’ve contributed immensely to Black Stars, especially those that won our four AFCON titles. Hearts and Kotoko’s identities attract. Everyone wants to see them” Yeboah explained detailing why Hearts and Kotoko must take their history and culture seriously.
“The pair make a heritage football institution” which must inhabit well-documented, properly preserved data on their history and which would draw tourist who visit Ghana to their secretariats to see and learn their great stories or achievements”.
Sadly, I don’t know of anything substantial on heritage and museums when talking about Hearts and Kotoko and of course, Ghana football. Yeboah says he’s prepared to assist Hearts and Kotoko, free of charge to get this done; the same for Ghana football.
“All I need is infrastructure support; office space, maybe at their secretariat, and other essential movables within which the works would be placed. I’ll do the research, the write-ups and others myself” he said.
Yeboah attributes the absence of club football museum in Ghana to the lack of education on the subject. “There are heritage studies professionals but maybe our football hasn’t embraced them yet, that’s also part of the issues beside the point of inadequate resources for undertaking these projects” said Yeboah.
Football is big business. It evokes loads of fun but what happens when the fun dissipates? It’s time to rethink our ways to developing the game and keeping lasting memories. Of what use is the toil of nurturing players who become superstars without having appropriate means of documenting and storing memorable information on their iconic performances for generations unborn?
It’s time to think beyond putting 11 players on the pitch. Clubs, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and other stakeholders must look at the issue of football museum. We’ve had excellent footballers and coaches; C. K. Gyamfi, Sam Arday, E. K. Afranie, Jones Atuquayefio and the rest. We’ve seen great footballers too – the Baba Yaras, Osei Kofis, Mohammed Polos, Abdul Razaks, Abedi Peles and more.
Veteran sports journalist, Ken Bediako have immutable memories of performances of these great coaches and players. He’s got photos too. He’s written extensively on them. Journalist, Fiifi Annan’s book on C. K. Gyamfi is another masterpiece. Musing on it with Yeboah’s heritage and museum exhibition, there’s need for a Ghana football museum.
The Kurt Okraku-led administration must reflect on this. We may not see the benefits today but its future significance can’t be overstated. Let’s think of the revenue football museums can generate besides the abiding experience that it would be there forever.
If we travel to Manchester, Madrid and Paris to take photos with statutes of their great European players, adore their photos and videos, read about them at their museums, what stops us from having a similar thing in Ghana? Kotoko can actually have a corner at the Manhyia museum. It’s not late for Hearts and Kotoko to think about these things.
It’s also not too much to ask for a Ghana football museum from the GFA.
Source: Jerome Otchere