That team did not – repeat, DID NOT – reach the medal zone, such as it was.
Right under our noses, there’s a team that actually won a whole tournament, despite scaling Herculean odds. And our President does not seem bothered.
Joy Sports understands that Ghana’s national female team is still based at the M-Plaza Hotel in Accra, despite returning from a victorious All Africa Games campaign on Sunday.
Today is Thursday.
The government, having seen the team annex the country’s first ever women’s football gold medal at the Games, has been engaged in distasteful cat and mouse schemes with them.
Uncharacteristically, President John Mahama is yet to publicly congratulate Ghana’s gold medal winners, which includes tennis doubles players Wisdom Narh and George Darko, too.
Prior to the Games, the Ministry of Youth and Sports had said $5000 will be given to any sportsman or woman who won gold in individual competitions. However, for team competitions such as football, a lesser amount will be given each athlete or player.
However, the Black Queens insist that was not all that agreed. Sources in the Queens camp say it was agreed that qualification from one stage to the other would attract the following bonuses: $3,000 from group stage, $2,000 from semifinals and $5,000 for winning the tournament.
But the ministry say they will only pay $2,000 to each of the 23 members of the Black Queens winning team.
And that is the crux of the impasse.
The decision to not move from the hotel appears to enjoy the support of the general public who believe the Queens do deserve a lot more than the amount considering the impact of their victory. As many point out, were the current situation have involved the Black Stars, the monies would have been quickly paid.
ENORMITY OF THE WIN
The Queens beat Cameroon by a lone goal on the final of the football tournament to annex gold.
The win was the first major victory for the Queens at a time when the odds were stacked against them. They only got through to the semis after a drawing of lots which saw them progress past South Africa’s Bayana Bayana.
In the semi-finals, they met strong opposition in neighbouring Ivory Coast but the Queens emerged as 1-0 victors.
The Queens did not have a strong record against the Cameroonians after they had failed to beat them in all three games prior to the final. All previous games had ended in draws.
The Lionesses, earlier this year, had also denied Ghana a place at next year’s summer Olympics in Rio and as such the Queens were determined to reverse that loss.
According to Queens officials, it’s impact the government does something notable due to the importance of the victory, which they say has the potential of encouraging more young girls to take up the sport.
One official also said the win also motivates and inspires the other national women’s teams – Maidens, Princesses – to strive for greatness at international tournaments.
Some have also argued that although their male counterparts have not won any trophy in the last three decades, they earn astronomical bonuses and as such the Queens have merited the increase they desire.
There have been instances of delayed payments and as such the Queens are also expected to press hard for the payment as soon as possible.
Special mention should be made for Black Stars captain Asamoah Gyan now.
His contribution to this gold medal cannot be downplayed. The sentiments are best expressed by Mercy Myles (above, right), captain of the Queens.
“Asamoah Gyan’s donation was the turning point,” she said in reaction to the $10,000 motivational package the male team skipper gave before the All Africa Games started.
“We went to the [Black Stars] camp and he saw that the players were not happy with the situation. We didn’t even want to leave and he came out to make that donation.
“It really motivated the team and put smiles on the faces of players.”
Gyan has now pledged to give the Queens another package for clinching gold. Et tu, Mahama?