Footballers ‘scared’ of returning to action in Ghana

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Some players and coaches in Ghana’s professional football leagues have told the BBC they are “scared” to resume playing and that football is “not ready”.

This despite the government of the west African country, which has had more than 32,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, being keen for football to return and has approved a resumption in mid-August.

However, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) would prefer to restart in October.

There has been no football in Ghana since the suspension of sporting activities in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But some players and technical team members told BBC Sport Africa that they fear more players contracting the virus upon resumption.

“We are not ready for our football to come back.” said Tony Lokko, Inter Allies coach.

“I have been communicating with my players and they are also scared, Look at the situation we are all scared of the virus.

“The health materials we are supposed to put in place are not ready and that is the fear of everyone at the moment.”

The GFA is yet to outline its plans on how football can return safely and to date has not replied to requests from BBC Sport Africa for a comment on the concerns raised by the clubs.

‘This virus is not a joke’

While European leagues have employed wide-ranging health protocols to ensure a safe restart of football – the Premier League alone investing £4m to acquire coronavirus testing kit, with each club testing 40 players and staff twice a week – Ghana does not have the money or capacity for such measures.

“We do not have the necessary facilities to observe the medical precautions that have been laid for regular testing of players and technical teams”, said Lokko

Chief Executive Officer of Ashanti Gold, Emmanuel Frimpong, said he is not ready to risk the health of his players with the virus still growing rapidly in Ghana.

“For now, it is not a good idea – the health of my players is more important,” he said.

“Until there is a solution to this virus, I don’t think I would like to my expose my players to the danger. This virus is not a joke.”

However, some players – such as Karela United captain Godfred Agyemang – said they were more optimistic about returning to play – provided they had assurances around health measures.

“The virus is still out there, but if the league authorities can assure us of our safety, I am happy to play,” he explained.

“I miss football. It’s been a long time.”

And for some players, any delay in football’s return means a loss of earnings they can ill afford.

Arthur Patrick of Dream FC said the coronavirus impact on football means players like him would rather return despite health and safety concerns.

“It has not been easy – football is a source of livelihood for we Ghanaian players and all of a sudden, coronavirus stopped our income,” he said.

“Financially, it’s not been okay for us. Been at home for six months has not been easy.

“I understand it may be a challenge for our Ghanaian football to follow the precaution off the European clubs but I am trusting the authorities to put things in place.”

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