Sports Minister's hot coal ended up burning his fingers

What Nii could have done was walk into the pitch and say to the players, “Thank you for your displayed patriotism," during their preparation for the game, which would have been perfect reaction, Muftawu Nabila Abdulai writes.

At the end of a hectic period which saw Black Stars players buy their own flight tickets to honour the last 2017 Africa Cup of nations qualifier against Rwanda, the sports minister, who preached for home-based players to be used for the match, graced the game. This was the first time in the history of Ghana players had to buy their own tickets for national team duty.

Sitting on a finely upholstered sofa at Accra sports stadium VVIP box, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, the Minister of Youth and Sports, kept his first two fingers on his lips as he gaze.

The FA President, Kwesi Nyantakyi, and his able lieutenants and other dignitaries filed past football fans for a pre-match handshake with the players lined up to square off for the final Group H Afcon 2017 qualifier.

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His presence was unnoticed. He was not the usual MINISTER who is the father of Ghana sport, whose presence sends waves of power. He stared on as the handshakes were ongoing. It seemed weird. Unflinchingly, he reminded the Ghana FA the Black Stars is for the state, and he has the right to demand accountability from them. But on this occasion, the STATE official had paperweight

Let’s be honest. The Black Stars is for the state, heads of the FA are only managing it, and Nii Lantey has an oversight responsibility in the sector.

But his approaches are instinctive. They sound alien. Maybe, he has no choice on the delivery due to emotions he accompanies his words with. Anyway, they are meant to serve a purpose which is to jolt the FA away from 'milking the state.'

And that, he made a call.  That call has left a lump in his throat, a red face and a racing, embarrassed heart. And then he lost his supremacy. His heart is heavy. Not because of facing the players, but his decision and stance prevented him.

The players have grown used to his constant flak over their winning bonus, as have the astonished FA and Ghanaians. The FA doesn’t look surprised when he throws a bomb into their building through the media. Neither do Ghanaians. After the initial shock of telling the FA through social media, the country is financially handicapped for the first time, thus, they won't buy flight tickets for the players, once they understood that, they showed up in their numbers without squabbles.

The happenings in Brazil killed Ghanaians love for Black Stars, and with Nii Lantey's campaign for patriotism over dollars, social graces hit sky high, and he adhered to what they “should” do or how they “should” behave. Without respecting and observing other people’s feelings and emotions, he embarked in a lifeless journey.

What Nii could have done was walk onto the pitch and say to the players, “Thank you for your displayed patriotism," during their preparation for the game, which is a perfect reaction. But no, he chose pride over tactfully massaging his own actions.

He knew he was rude to make the call and, tried to force it on the coach. The pummeling his actions got should have made him sober. But it didn’t. As black and bleak his motives were, his feet were ice cold.

There is this Buddhist saying: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else – you are the one who gets burned."

And that's what the most powerful man did, burnt himself, and hid away from the cameras when he should have at least, welcomed Rwanda for coming to Ghana as our culture demands.


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