GFA President admits worrying coaching standards

Ghana Football Association (GFA) President, Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku, has expressed concern over the declining standards of coaching and refereeing in the sport and emphasised that these challenges posed significant obstacles to the sport’s development.

He, however, assured the public that the GFA was committed to addressing those challenges.

Speaking at the 29th GFA Ordinary Congress in Kumasi yesterday, Mr Simeon-Okraku admitted that the standard of coaching remained a major problem and required substantial investment in capacity-building, time, and patience to yield positive results.

He further gave an assurance that the GFA was actively investing in raising coaching standards on all fronts, with particular attention being given to training and retraining coaches at the Ghanaman Centre of Excellence in Prampram.

In a bid to improve match officiating, the FA President disclosed that selected professional referees will be appointed to handle betPawa Premier League matches on a pilot basis, starting from the upcoming season.

However, he stated that much work remained to be done in raising the technical handlers’ capabilities over time to positively influence the game’s standards at all levels.

And to address this, his administration had revamped the technical department, appointing a Director of Coaching Education to collaborate closely with the FA’s Technical Director and instructors from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on building the capacity of coaches across all levels, with coaching licensing courses being implemented extensively.

“We have challenges with refereeing but with coaching we have a big problem,” he said in an address at the GFA Congress at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.

Following the suspension of a number of top referees who were implicated in the Number 12 expose in 2018, the FA administration instituted a Catch Them Young policy to attract and train the youth to take up refereeing at the lower levels, an intervention the FA President said was yielding a lot of results.

In a related development, Prof. Joseph Kwame Mintah, the FA’s Director of Coaching Education, detailed the coaching licensing courses currently conducted at Prampram, indicating that it was modelled after the coaching licensing programme by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), with FIFA and UEFA officials providing valuable input in structuring the courses.

Similar to university semesters, the GFA/CAF licensing courses require completion of a specific number of contact hours during which coaches are monitored by assessors in the field before returning to the classroom.

Prof. Mintah noted that coaches with the highest licence in Ghana primarily hailed from the old era, while those holding modern licences are often found coaching in Division Two or serving as assistant coaches in Division One clubs.

The course content, he emphasised, was comprehensive, akin to UEFA’s licence programme, with differences being observed in the playing style and game models between lower-tier divisions and the Premier League.

“The content is rich and developed like the UEFA licence course. So, for example, in the Division 2 Middle League, you see that the style of play, their game model is different from the one you see in the premier league,” Prof Mintah, onetime head coach of Ebusua Dwarfs and a former psychologist of the Black Stars, told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the GFA Congress.

As of now, Prof. Mintah’s efforts have focused on coaching courses for Licence D, Licence C, and Licence A, awaiting approval of the course content before commencing the GFA/CAF License A courses.

Notably, 500 participants have already completed the Licence D course, with 120 undergoing the Licence C course, of which 60 have already finished. Female coaches are also receiving separate coaching courses at Prampram.