In 2006 after Ghana’s maiden World Cup appearance in Germany, I embarked on a journey with the country’s football governing body, the Ghana Football Association.
14 years on in 2020, I look back with nostalgia, pride and gratitude to what has truly been an eventful period.
Prior to joining the GFA, I had been working with Mr. Herbert Mensah’s influential Soccer Express newspaper, where I rose through the ranks from letter writer (lol), correspondent, columnist, deputy editor and editor within three years as a very young boy.
After leaving the Soccer Express, where I had an amazing on-the-job experience under Kobina Andoh (now Director of Communications, Office of Former President Rawlings) and Isaac Yeboah (now Editor of graphiconline) I joined the GFA as the first Editor of its pioneer newspaper, the GFA News.
Together with an amazing team, including my brother Richard Adjei Yirenkyi, we made the GFA News one of the most patronised newspapers in Ghana, as well as a reliable source of news for both the media and the public in an era newspapers were still very popular.
BIRTH OF GFA COMMS DEPARTMENT
While my team and I worked on the GFA News, Mr. Randy Abbey, who was a member of the Executive Committee, operated a separate unit as Spokesperson of the GFA. Nana Obiri Yeboah also managed another communication unit, the GFA website.
Clearly, the GFA didn’t have a Communications Department and these three units operated separately. This continued until late 2010 when I sent a proposal to then GFA General Secretary, Kofi Nsia about the need to establish a centralised communications department to bring all the three units together.
The General Secretary sent my presentation to the Executive Committee, who approved it and forwarded it to Congress for approval to establish a Communications Department.
At Congress in 2011, a sub committee was established to propose modalities for Congress to adopt. Mr. Randy Abbey was the chairman of the sub committee and I was secretary.
Congress adopted the sub Committee’s recommendation that a communications department should be established, and the head of that department should be a Deputy General Secretary of the GFA. That significant adoption marked the birth of the Communications Department.
In January 2012, just before the African Cup of Nations in Gabon, the GFA announced Mr. Ibrahim Sannie Daara as the first-ever head of the new Communications Director of the GFA. Ibrahim joined from the BBC, and without doubt, he came along with enormous knowhow and experience in journalism.
Shortly after Sannie joined, one of the most committed members of the department, Richard, left for the United States and his place was taken by a young volunteer called Willy Bossman.
With Sannie as head, myself as Editor of GFA News, Obiri as Editor of the GFA website and strong support from Bossman and Julius Hansen-Sackey, we formed a formidable partnership to work on strategy, content delivery, CSR projects, policies, and events. Surely, these justified the decision to establish a centralised communications department.
Social media was relatively new, especially in the football arena. With insightful leadership from Sannie Daara, the department shifted its focus to new media and became one of the early Football Association’s in Africa to create a Twitter and facebook accounts. Today, the GFA undoubtedly has one of the most effective and vibrant FA social media handles in Africa. It also has active accounts for all of its competitions.
As we worked to deliver timely content for all social media handles and website, we also had the opportunity to work on other GFA projects.
I must say that members of the department did not only challenge ourselves to work; we also encouraged each other as a family, to pursue further studies. Sannie encouraged me to pursue my Masters in Communications in 2014 and I also encouraged my brother Bossman to pursue his in 2018. Great team!
Working with the GFA has presented me
with enormous life-changing opportunities, which I will forever be grateful to the Almighty Allah.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a sports journalist and having been nurtured elsewhere, it was an absolute privilege to work for the nation’s football controlling body. My soccer-mad family and friends really loved it….and I loved it too.
By working for the GFA, I have been to places, met renowned personalities and made incredible friends in and outside football.
Working for the GFA, especially as a spokesperson also comes with its own challenges, especially as spokesperson for the PLB and lately the Association itself as Acting Spokesperson and Communications Director.
No matter how meticulous you are, you cannot avoid stepping on toes……And as I also found out lately, some also deliberately want you to step on their toes.
The reality of life is that, you cannot please everybody. And you can never, never satisfy people who just don’t like you, no matter what you do.
Once you have a clean conscience, a clean heart, just rely on God and ignore such people. 😂😂
Surely, the few ugly challenges I encountered at the GFA, cannot measure up to the God-sent opportunities I had with the GFA and the beautiful memories I had with many, many beautiful people.
THANK YOU TO BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
Apart from the Almighty Allah, who is always sufficient for me, there are truly a number of people I owe a debt of gratitude to during my time at the GFA. They are countless, but the few of them who readily come to mind are:
First on that tall, endless list is, of course, the former President of the GFA Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi. When I presented a proposal to him in 2006 for the GFA to establish a newspaper to disseminate information , he welcomed me with open arms and sent my proposal to the Executive Committee for approval. Considering my age then, many would’ve dismissed my idea, but he believed in me and my proposal. Sir, thank you. Whatever has happened, Allah knows best and I am happy you are well and smiling again.
I’ve had the privilege of working extensively under 4 General Secretaries at the GFA: Kofi Nsia, Emmanuel Gyimah, Isaac Addo and Alex Asante. It was nice working with you all. They have all left the GFA, except Alex Asante. This shows you can’t stay at a place forever.
The GFA staff – I have got some brothers and sisters in there – great men and women. You know yourselves. Shout out to the money man Mark Addo, the big DATO Albert Oduro. Big salute to Emmanuel Newton Dasoberi my brother and Kanda lunch partner.
To the ladies, I say hello.
I have a special, inseparable connection with my Communication Team Members. They are:
JULIUS: I have been working with Julius since our Soccer Express days. Fantastic graphic designer who is sadly undervalued. A fitting testament to his creativity is the awesome cover of A Gift To A Nation – the biography of the National Chief Imam I authored. Julius I will miss you.
BOSSMAN: As for the brilliant William Bossman, what else can I say about him that I haven’t said before. Classmate, workmate and confidante. Real guy. Real friend. Real brother. I will never, never forget what you did the other day.
SANNIE: Ibrahim Sannie Daara once a boss, always a boss. A very forthright and demanding boss….but also very nice to be around with. He’s not only a big boss, he is also a big brother who offers that timely advice. I still turn to him to tap from his amazing experience.
FOOTBALL PEOPLE: I have a fantastic relationship with several football personalities in the country, both young and old. Some of them have become mentors who call me all the time to offer good counsel on many issues and a number of them have been calling me since yesterday. I have been absolutely humbled and overwhelmed by your kind words. Thank you!
I’m also grateful to colleague journalists who have showed love since yesterday.
And to friends here who have sent me kind words openly and a privately, may Allah bless you all.
I reserve a special thank you to my mentor Kojo Addae-Mensah. The riveting story of big Kojo and I, deserves a chapter in an autobiography, in shaa Allah.
Finally, let me end this TBT with one of my favourite verses in the Quran Chapter 3, Verse 173:
“……Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.”
Masha Allah. Alhamdulillah.
Credit: Issah Tamimu