I have been inundated the past couple of weeks by news of the plight of some former (old) soccer players like Emmanuel Armah (Senegal), Joe Odoi (Tex), Yahya Kassum etc.
and have been seriously mulling the idea of proposing the formation of a body to be named Ghana Football Players Association (GFPA) aimed at alleviating their woes and providing a revenue generating platform that will address their future sustenance and welfare needs. It therefore came as a welcome respite when I learned yesterday that such a body was already in existence since May 2009 under the name Professional Footballers Association of Ghana (PFAG). Out of curiousity I proceeded to ‘google’ the organization (association) and my excitement was immediately dissipated in bewilderment by what I saw, and quite uncharacteristically almost muttered: what the h… is this?
Credit must be given where credit is due and will like to applaud Tony Baffoe and co. for coming up with such a laudable and well meaning idea but, however, the association is lacking in direction, imagination and ambition to the point of perplexity, and no wonder it’s been in existence for over 2 years but its effectiveness has been downright abysmal and practically irrelevant. There are a gazillion issues wrong with this association which has to be streamlined immediately otherwise it will be just a cosmetic body that will NEVER accomplish its purpose, and that is even being politically correct. Here, therefore are a myriad of issues I have with PFAG:
i.I do not profess to be the repository of all knowledge neither am I an English major but to be very blunt the level of English, grammar, sentence construction on its website: www.pfag.com.gh is at best godawful, despicable and atrocious. For e.g. just check out this sentence on its website under Insurance fund/endowment fund – “This fund supports any member or dependant past or present with financial assistant who is facing financial membership”. What on God’s green earth is this supposed to mean? Yes I have an idea what is meant here but clarity of information is just as important as the message itself and as such the message has to be clear and unambiguous. How can PFAG genuinely expect anyone to support its efforts when they cannot have a common understanding of what it’s clamoring for? Was there no one to proofread the contents of the website? The whole website has to be shut down and the contents and other pertinent issues addressed before it’s relaunched.
ii.Just as a ship without a compass is practically going nowhere so is an organization without a mission and vision statement. In order for people to buy into and support your leadership and direction they have to know what your vision and mission are. Yes there are goals on your website (poor English clutters its meaning anyway) but that is no substitute for a mission and vision statement. You need a mission and vision statement that encapsulates the what, why, when, who, how etc. to be considered a serious association worth supporting.
iii.Its been 26 months since its inception and to date PFAG doesn’t have a constitution. Why? What working document therefore guides its day to day operations, ensures fluidity and forestalls inhibitions by way of checks and balances, enhances financial accountability and integrity etc? Unless this association is intended as a camouflage to create a false impression that the players welfare are being represented then this is unacceptable.
iv.What parameters does PFAG operate within or intends to function within? Am asking this question because it seems lost on me as to whom PFAG is actually representing. I read in another piece that: Local Black Stars join PFAG. Is PFAG not an all encompassing body which implies that every local player (Premier Division) is by default or design an automatic member? It shouldn’t be a jigsaw puzzle for anyone to try to have a common understanding of whom and what you represent.
v.PFAG should be completely independent of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and see itself as an association that is intent on taking on the GFA among others to seek better working conditions for its members. How can PFAG effectively take on the GFA when the GFA is more or less its landlord because its office is located on their premises. There is an apothegm which states “Drink deep or sip not” so if PFAG means business then it should dissociate itself from the GFA and that way they can have an ethical and moral ground to take them on.
vi.PFAG should be professionally managed and by that I mean it should secure the services of people with the intellectual, administrative, business and organizational acumen to effectively run the association. Currently Tony Baffoe is the General Secretary with the Board Members being Akwasi Appiah, Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, Tony Yeboah, Abedi Pele, Richard Kingson, Augustine Arhinful, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Kwame Ayew and Marcel Desailly. No disrespect to any of these players level of intellect, but I don’t know what in their backgrounds (majority of them) will make for effective governance. Check out the NBA, NFL, MLB etc. in the US and you’ll realize that the players serve in representative roles but have accomplished individuals at the top of the chain. For e.g. the NFL have DeMaurice Smith a trial lawyer and litigation partner as the Executive Director and Billy Hunter a former US Attorney under President Jimmy Carter as the Executive Director of the NBA.
I am particularly fascinated with the NBA and will recommend PFAG check out their website: www.nbpa.org for brilliant ideas. Apart from the players serving on the Executive Committee all the 30 NBA teams have a player representative who report back to their teammates, and the association has 11 Departments notably the Legal, Finance, Communications, Player Programs, Career Development Program, Player Benefits & Concierge Services, General Administration, Security & Agent Administration etc. Until the formation of that body the players had no pension plans, no per diem, no minimum wage, no health benefits and the average player salary was $8,000. Today the average player salary is $6.5m and can anyone argue that this isn’t due to proper and effective management and administration.
vii.It is refreshing that Tony Baffoe, the General Secretary, is frantically trying to appeal for ex-gratia for the old players. That in itself isn’t a bad idea but you and I know just as day comes after night and vice versa that it will meet the usual GFA “No Money” syndrome wall. Even when they decide to be generous it will either be some paltry sums of money or the provision of items such as TV’s, sound systems, refrigerators and all that ‘jazz’. What the players need are long term sustainable avenues and opportunities that will get them out of their present quagmire and provide a pathway to a better tomorrow devoid of dependence on the generosity and sympathy of others.
Our dependence on others is sickening and high time we learn to be men and make things happen. As such there should be better revenue generating mechanisms in place, better compilation and collection of dues, sports merchandising, career development and training programs, financial advisory programs especially for the current players on how to better invest and save for tomorrow, real estate planning advise etc. The real goal should be for a better today and tomorrow and not just a flash in the pan.
Guess I’ve stated enough and this wouldn’t be taken out of context to mean a desire to lambast and discredit your efforts but let’s try and put together a product or service that will stand the test of time and forever imprint your name indelibly in the hearts of the soccer players. Before I end this piece I’ll like to make a personal commitment to PFAG and Tony Baffoe. Anytime you come to the States send me an email with your contact number and I’ll meet you to share and/or exchange ideas and rewrite the contents of the website for free. Till then I wish you well in all your endeavors.
Source: Carl Owusu-Barnes
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