Kwame Nkrumah, the greatest promoter of African football

As Ghana marks Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, Pulse Sports chronicles his tremendous contributions to African football...

Kwame Nkrumah

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who was the first President of the Republic of Ghana made great impact in the development of football not only in Ghana, but the rest of the African continent.

Osagyefo is revered by many Ghanaians for his contribution in Ghana’s fight against independence and the various economic and social changes that happened under his watch.

Aside from his immense contribution to social and economic development, the football fraternity is indebted to him

His love for the beautiful game was second to none, so he used it as a tool to champion African unity.


One is not far from right to say that Kwame Nkrumah contributed to the development of African football than any President on the continent.

He used football as a tool to achieve African unity in his quest to unite the African continent. He invested in the Black Stars and he believed with a successful national football team his agenda would thrive well.

Every 21st September is a public holiday in Ghana to remember Dr. Kwmae Nkrumah because he was born on 21st September 1909, Pulse Ghana has takes you takes you down memory lane to enumerate five remarkable achievements of Osagyefo in football.

Below are the five remarkable contributions of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in football


Establishment of Real Republikans

Kwame Nkrumah through the Director of Sports Ohene Djan formed Real Republikans (a.k.a Osagyefo's Own Club) which was a model club.

Ohene Djan recruited two of the finest players from each of the top teams in Ghana and one from the middle table teams.

It was a result of this that Baba Yara and Dogo Moro were transferred from Kotoko to Real Republikans, whereas Dodoo Ankrah and Addo Odametey were also recruited from Hearts to Osagyefo’s Own Club.

Fast forward Real Republikans contributed 40% of the Black Stars team that won the 1963 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on home soil.


The heroes of Ghana’s 3-0 triumph over Sudan in the final were Real Republikans players, namely Aggrey Fyn who scored the opener and the Edward Acquah who bagged a brace.

The team would won one league title and dominated the FA Cup winning it for unprecedented four consecutive times.

Real Republikans also became the first club to win a double of league and FA Cup in the 1962/1963 season.

CAF Champions Cup (former African Champions Cup)

Kwame Nkrumah mooted the idea of a single continental club football in Africa like the European Champions Cup (now the UEFA Champions League).


This was part of Kwame Nkrumah’s agenda to achieve a united Africa.

He donated the first ever cup for the African Champions Cup (now the Champions League) and Ghana became the host nation of the maiden competition in the 1964/1965.

Real Republicans who were champions of Ghana represented the West African powerhouse.

Four champions from other African countries participated in the competitions

Oryx Douala (Cameroon )


Real Republikans (Ghana)

Stade Malien (Mali)

Cotton Factory Club (Ethiopia)

Cameroon giants Oryx Douala edged Stade Malien 2-1 in the final.

Kwame Nkrumah donated the first ever cup named Osagyefo's Cup for the competition.


Kwame Nkrumah Gold Cup and West African Federation

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah instituted the Gold Cup in 1959 and became an annual football tournament in the West African sub region for a period of four years.

In a meeting with Dr Kwame Nkrumah in 1958 Mr Ohene Djan, chairman of the Ghana Amateur Football Association, announced the intention of his association to compete in the Olympic Games. Dr Nkrumah encouraged this and pointed out that he thought it would be a good idea to institute a regional competition for West Africa, promising that he would donate a gold cup as the trophy for such a competition.

Mr Djan visited Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast to garner support for the idea, and on Saturday 28th March 1959, at the Ambassador Hotel in Accra, a conference was held with the aim of establishing a West African federation, the main purpose of which was to administer the competition for the Nkrumah Gold Cup.

The conference was opened by Dr Nkrumah himself, and was presided over by Mr Kojo Botsio, president of the G.A.F.A. Ghana was represented by Mr Jellico Quaye and Mr Sam Blankson, as well as Mr Djan and Mr Botsio.


The result of the conference was the West African Soccer Federation. Dr Kwame Nkrumah was elected as life patron, and Mr Kojo Botsio as president. Mr R.B. Allen of Nigeria and Mr Rito Alcantara of Senegal were named vice presidents, and Mr Ohene Djan was elected secretary-treasurer.

The body organised the Kwame Nkrumah Gold Cup which the maiden edition was held in 1959

The preliminary rounds of the competition were arranged zonally for geographical convenience:

Zone A: Nigeria, Dahomey, Togo, Cameroon, Fernando Póo

Zone B: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Niger, Upper Volta


Zone C: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Mali

Zone D: Senegal, Portuguese Guinea, Gambia, Cape Verde

The four zone champions would then play in the finals. The tournament was planned to be held biennially, with the first "trial" edition to be held in 1959 with finals in Ghana (these were later delayed until early 1960). The first competition "proper" would take place in 1960 with finals in October in Nigeria to coincide with Nigerian independence.

The competition was played from 1959 to 1963.

Fight for African slot in the FIFA World Cup


In January 1964, Fifa decided that the line-up for the 16-team finals would include 10 teams from Europe, including hosts England, four from Latin America and one from the Central American and Caribbean region.

That left just one place to be fought for by three continents: Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Within a month, Ghana's Director of Sport Ohene Djan, who was also a member of Fifa's Executive Committee, was crying foul.

"Registering strong objection to unfair World Cup arrangement for Afro-Asian countries STOP," he complained in a telegram to Fifa.

"Afro-Asian countries struggling through painful expensive qualifying series for ultimate one finalist representation is pathetic and unsound STOP At the worst, Africa should have one finalist STOP Urgent - reconsider"


Djan's bullish tone stemmed from Kwame Nkrumah, the president of Ghana which had become, in 1957, the first sub-Saharan nation to achieve independence.

Nkrumah wanted to use football to unite Africa and had told his appointee Djan to do whatever was necessary to put African football on the world map.

Africa's boycott of the the FIFA World Cup in 1966 compellled FIFA to revise the allocation of slot for the 1970 Mundial.

Africa in 1970 were given one slot by FIFA.

Ghana’s football reached its pinnacle- won two continental titles


1963 Champions of Africa

The Black Stars, who had won three West African titles, became the first country from the Sub-Saharan Africa to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1963 on home soil, walloping Sudan three goals to nil, through a goal from Aggrey Fyn and a brace from Edward Acquah.

It was a triumph for both the team and their leader Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the republic of Ghana. Football he believed could be a model for African pride and unity and with a successful Black Stars team he had a supreme vehicle.

The skipper of the team was Aggrey Fyn and CK Gyamfi was the head coach with Ben Kouffie as his assistant.

1965 AFCON triumph


The Black Stars again won their 2 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy in 1965, but this time on North African soil, defeating the host nation Tunisia in a dramatic grand finale to become the first country to beat a host nation in the final of the AFCON.

The role of Ohene Djan, the first director of Sports of Ghana in the Black Stars success story in 1963 and 1965 can’t be quantified.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah used him as an agent to promote Ghana football by forming Real Republicans, which selected 2 players each from the top clubs in Ghana and that team formed the core of the Black Stars team that won the first AFCON in 1965.

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