24th February 1966, a date many soccer fans in the capital of the Brong Ahafo Region continue to rue. A political coup d’état would shatter the possibility of what might have potentially been the coronation year of BA United, the club with the largest support base in the region, as league champions.
However, as destiny would have it, the league had to be abridged, with BA United leading the table, to deal with the country’s political crisis. Fifty three years on, and the Sunyani giants are still licking their wounds, the side which plays its home games at the “coronation” park have never been coronated as champions of the Ghanaian league.
Founded in 1959, Brong Ahafo United is one of the oldest clubs in the country. The club has gone through almost all the transitional periods in Ghana football and has such experience as any club would need to be successful. Yet, despite the immeasurable experience in the Ghanaian game, BA United still finds itself in a position of perplexity, wallowing in unknown waters, and beset with several challenges.
According to Harry S Truman (33rd President of the United States), “men make history and not the other way round. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” Indeed leadership is absolutely indispensable as far as progress is concerned in every sphere of human endeavor. Many are the challenges which bedevil BA United, but the most calamitous of all such problems is the problem of poor leadership.
Poor leadership has caused irreparable damage to BA United within the last 15 years, a situation which has seen the Sunyani giants spend 12 out of the last 15 years in the lower echelons of Ghana football. Currently in first division, under the leadership of former Bolton Wanderers star, Mustapha Riga, BA United hopes to rediscover their lost mettle, which once made them a dreaded club in the Ghanaian league.
With over ten club chairmen within the last 10 years, a rather tall list which includes the likes of Lord Zico (CEO of Bechem United), Ransford Antwi (CEO of Suncity radio), the late George Arthur, Micky Charles (CEO of Techiman City), Kwabena Kyere ( NDC Parliamentary aspirant for Berekum West), Roy Arthur, just to mention but a few. It is instructive to note that some of these chairmen did well in their brief stints with the club. However, many others woefully failed the club. Many left no legacy, no blueprint, no identity, no structures, and no definite route to success. The lowest point for the club within this period being its demotion to the 2nd division after it suffered an unprecedented 18 points deduction under the leadership of Micky Charles.
It is regrettable to note that a club of BA United’s stature has no definite, unquestionable, and generally recognized figurehead of authority, whose authority is legally without challenge. Once under the authority of the Omanhene of the Sunyani Traditional area, Nana Bosoma Asor Nkrawiri II, the unjustifiable, inexplicable and rather uncouth conduct of some hooligans who identify themselves as loyalists of the club to attack the Omanhene in a bid to wrestle the club from a chairman they thought was being supported by the chief, has left the club without a soul.
The contemptuous conduct, which brought the entire Sunyani traditional authority into disrepute, occasioned a resolution by the Traditional authority, led by Nana Bosoma Asor Nkrawiri II, to withdraw any attachment and support to the club. Try as subsequent club chairmen such as Mr. Ransford Antwi and Kwabena Kyere Stuggard tried to take the club back to the Sunyani Traditional authority; the efforts have not been very fruitful.
The Board of the Club, headed by Mr. Nimo, has come under several attacks over what some club supporters see as clear breach of the club’s constitution. According to the aggrieved supporters of the club, the tenure of the current Board has far expired, rendering any acts by the Board as legally invalid. Some of those supporters have previously threatened to resort to the Court to seek justice and enforce the club’s constitution.
Clearly, leadership is a big conundrum for the Sunyani based giants. The club does not have an administrative office, a prerequisite for every serious company. Other problems such as inadequate funds, intolerance of the club’s hierarchy to differing opinions, hooliganism, poor structures, and lack of long-term planning has left the club in state of incapacitation, confusion, and disorientation.
All is not lost for BA United however. Few miles from Sunyani are the newly crowned Ghana premier league champions, Aduana Stars. A club which did what was unthinkable in Ghana football, winning the Ghanaian league in their debut season. Aduana Stars have proven that success comes to those who really want it and persevere through determination, planning, focus, proper direction, and good leadership.
Ably led by Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Nana Agyemang Badu II, paramount chief of Dormaa, Aduana Stars have achieved something BA United has failed to achieve in over 58 years of the club’s existence.
Aduana Stars football club, a club which is barely two decades old, and having spent only 8 years in the Ghana premier league, are already two-time champions of the Ghanaian league. Berekum Chelsea, another Brong Ahafo based club, inspired by the exploits of Aduana Stars, has also won the league once within the last 6 seasons.
Clearly, BA United can learn valuable lessons from these two successful regional clubs, particularly Aduana Stars. Just as BA United sometime ago, Aduana Stars is under the authority of Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Agyemang Badu II, paramount chief of the Dormaa Traditional area.
Nana is the visionary leader, a leader whose authority is without question. The Dormaa Traditional council is the soul of the club, from which the club draws inspiration and unflinching support.
The entire people of the Dormaa Traditional area, both residents and non residents see themselves as members of the club, with an obligation to support the club in every possible capacity. Aduana Stars epitomizes unity, something which cannot be said of BA United.
Harold S. Geneen once said that “leadership is practiced not so much in words as in actions.” How right are these words that indeed a good leader’s actions speaks volumes of his ability to lead. Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Agyemang Badu II has led Aduana Stars to climb to the pinnacle of Ghana football through visionary leadership, action rather than words has been the weapon.
Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko have been knocked off their perch twice by Aduana Stars football club. The secret of the success of Aduana Stars does not require any hypothesis, it only requires keen observation. The club hardly loses its star players at the end of the season, top class players are often recruited to beef up and revitalize an already talented squad seasonally, players are very well motivated, salaries are often paid promptly, winning bonuses are enticing enough, unity is at its expected best, and most importantly, Osagyefo Oseadeeyo Agyemang Badu II is always at his best to provide the much-needed leadership and direction for the club.
BA United cannot continue to do the same things and expect different results. The old ways must change, new ways must be embraced.
Mustapha Riga has shown glimpses of determination and commitment to reestablish the club as a great force in Ghana football once again. However, the journey is a long one, a journey which requires more than just commitment and determination. BA United football club needs good leadership, a leader of action and not of words, a leader of focus and of mettle. It is fervently hoped that Mustapha Riga would prove himself as that leader which the club seriously requires. Unity is a problem that ought to be addressed.
All supporters must demonstrate beyond doubt that their loyalty to the club is not borne out of selfishness but out of love for the club. The constitutional issue regarding the Board of Directors ought to be resolved as quickly as possible in a very amicable manner.
The long-standing issue of who really owns the club must be addressed, and as a matter of advice, the club must be given back to the Sunyani Traditional council, from where the soul of the club has been long-lost.
BA United is a sleeping giant, a confused club, but yet with a great opportunity to rediscover its long-lost status as a giant in the region. If there is a club which BA United can draw inspiration from, in a quest to reestablish itself as an elite club in Ghana football, Aduana Stars football club is the best club to call upon, and the best place to undergo apprenticeship.
Aduana Stars football club is an inspiration for the confused BA United.
By: Bismark Oppong