THIS is the second and concluding part of an interview on former Black Stars and Kotoko player, Kwadwo Addae Kyenkyenhene.
In the first part published in the last edition of Graphic Sports, the football legend took our reporter, George Ernest Asare, on a trip down memory lane as he looked back at the high and low points of his illustrious football career.
This time the retied football icon, now a minister of the gospel at Ola Akin Temple Harvesters Evangelistic Ministry at Bantama, Kumasi, talks about his commitment to winning souls for Jesus Christ, as well as the conflict between his role as a Minister of God and football.
GS: What would you say was the legacy you left at Kotoko?
AK: I can firmly say that I excelled during my time at Kotoko and won leagues, FA Cup and continental trophies. However, the FA Cup which I helped Kotoko to win remains my most unforgettable honour even though I won the biggest trophy in Africa in 1983 after we defeated Al Ahly of Egypt with Opoku Nti scoring the winning goal from a cross by John Bannerman.
GS: What made you to call time on your career when you did?
AK: There is a story behind the abrupt end of my career and as a Pastor I have to tell you everything. Even when I was not a pastor I was always principled, sincere and truthful in everything.
Before anyone was appointed Chairman of Kotoko, such people normally lobbied the players for support. One of them was former Kotoko chairman Ofori Nuako whom I will never forget.
When he had the opportunity to be the chairman of the club after Yaw Bawuah had won the African cup for Kotoko in 1983, Ofori Nuako -- who was then a Director of Kotoko based at Tema -- started lobbying the players as usual but he adopted divide-and-rule tactics which were against my principles, so I did not give him my support.
The divide-and-rule approach he adopted was different from the kind of leadership his predecessors such as Simms Kofi Mensah and Yaw Bawuah provided. The two [Mensah and Bawuah] were great administrators because they always brought the team together and fostered healthy relationship and teamwork.
Since I was a senior player at that time, I managed to unite the players in everything we did. Ofori Nuako first went to the late Essumenjahene, Nana Oduro Nimapau II, to lobby after he had seen the players so the team was eventually given to him to manage.
A year after he took over he invited me for a meeting. In the course of the meeting he hinted that he had recognised my leadership qualities as a unifier so he wanted me to take the role as a team manager to accelerate the forward march of Kotoko.
At that time in 1985, I felt I could have played actively for three more years for Kotoko before hanging up my boots but I could not have refused to take up the role he was offering me because that would have been tantamount to being a rebel, so I reluctantly stopped playing active football and took the role as the team manager of Kotoko.
It was after my role as a team manager that I became a minister of the gospel to win souls for Christ.
GS: Where was Opoku Afriyie at that time?
AK: Before then an incident involving Opoku Afriyie happened which I do not want to comment about. I don’t want to comment because we were all Kumasi-based players and did not want some issues to be made public.
At that time Yaw Bawuah was the Chairman of Kotoko, he had some issues with Opoku Afriyie who was the skipper of Kotoko at that time. The issues involving Yaw Bawuah and Opoku Afriyie created a friction.
I did my best to foster peace between the two but it did not go the way I wanted until Opoku Afriyie left the team with bitterness.
GS: During your playing days did you ever have an encounter with the use of juju by players or teams? Did you ever indulge in it?
AK: This is an interesting question. As a player I can faithfully say that I never used any form of juju since I started playing active football. I never involved myself in juju because I never believed in it from the onset. However, some individual players were deeply involved in it and were seen with concoctions and powdered substances in their boots and parts of their bodies before they entered the field of play.
GS: There is a belief that some football teams visit some juju men to help their victory in tough matches . How do you respond to this?
AK: It depends on the management of such teams . If the management of a team have a firm belief in juju, they can easily involve themselves in it. Some football fans also do it on behalf of the players. However, as a player I did not allow them also to bring such things directly to our players, no matter what.
GS: There was always the suspicion that juju played an active part in matches involving Kotoko and Hearts.
AK: During our days, it was not easy to play against Hearts of Oak because often such matches defied the form guide and victories in such matches largely depended on the determination of a particular team. It was the team which put a lot of effort in preparations for the match and determination into the game that won such matches.
In our days, we put everything into training and had sleepless nights when we were to play against Hearts. Sometimes we camped for a whole week and planned together as players. I remember in one of our matches in Accra where we beat them 3-0. We were so determined to beat Hearts in Accra that we started attacking in droves the moment the match started and succeeded in running away with the victory.
GS: How did you become a minister of God to win souls for Jesus Christ?
AK: It started during one of our campings when I was the Team Manager of Kotoko. When I was forcefully retired, I decided to be committed to my new role. I took Kotoko as my personal project. This was because I was brought up at Asawase, which was close to the Manhyia Palace. My association with Kotoko, therefore, started at a tender age, so when I became the team manager, I prepared the team as if we were at a battle front fighting to conquer our enemies all the time. I, therefore, took camping of our players very serious, especially when preparing to play against Hearts. At that time, I realised that one of our players had a different character and attitude altogether. I, therefore, started monitoring him closely so that I could find out why he was special in attitude and character.
GS: Who was the player in question?
AK: He was called Aboagye Dacosta and he was residing at North Suntreso. Because I monitored each player in camp and training so well, I saw that Aboagye Dacosta had a different personality. Whether in camp for local or continental matches, Aboagye Dacosta was always present in his room deeply engrossed in either reading the Bible or praying. This was at a time other players were either breaking camp to do their own things or chatting and arguing unnecessarily.
After visiting each of the players to know what each was doing at a particular day, I decided to go to Dacosta’s room to find out what he was also doing. Moments after I entered, I saw that he was reading the Bible, as usual, so I asked him why he was always reading the Bible or praying when in camp.
His answer was that he had a Lord and a Saviour who had never failed him. He said his Lord and Saviour could always change your life for the better when you associate with Him. He told me also that victory and success always came your way when you got closer to his Lord.
When I probed further, he told me that Jesus Christ was the Lord and Saviour he was talking about. I laughed and told him that for Jesus we all knew him because we always attended church services and learnt about Jesus Christ.
He, however, disputed what I said and told me that one had to be very committed to Jesus Christ before He could provide one’s needs. Later, I told him that I wanted to get closer to Jesus and be committed to Him specially so Dacosta prayed with me.
Since then, I decided to allow Jesus Christ to be part of my life. I then joined him at his place of worship at Harvesters Evangelical Ministries at North Suntreso and that is where I had been since then.
The late Pastor Ola was then Head of the Ministry so I was introduced to him and he took me as a son and started teaching me about the Bible and I started learning more about Jesus Christ.
Later, I was introduced to Pastor Marin Ampoma who took over the ministry after Pastor Ola passed on.
In the course of my commitment to Jesus Christ, I realised that I had had a call to also pastor over the lost sheep of Christ and I accepted it wholeheartedly.
GS: When did you become a Pastor eventually?
AK: I have been a pastor for a long time.
GS: Did you start moments after your football career ended?
AK: It was in the early 90s, around 1991 and 1992, that I entered the Bible School and later graduated to take up the mantle of joining the ministry to serve the Lord.
GS: Where did you train to become a pastor?
AK: It was Faith Convention which is made up of a conglomeration of about 10 churches. Among the churches that established Faith Convention to train pastors are Maranatha and Harvesters .
GS: As a Reverend Minister, what specifically is your role in the church?
AK: My church has a Head Pastor who is Rev. Ampomah. But he is now about 80 years of age, so he is not very active at church services. As his deputy, I have been leading the church in all programmes
GS: How big is your church?
AK: At the moment, we are not less than 500 members.
GS: You mentioned that Aboagye Dacosta introduced you to the Ministries of God. Where is he now?
AK: Dacosta is still in the Ministries of God but he has now established his own church where he is pastoring.
GS: As a former footballer, what is your reaction when people choose to attend matches at the stadium on Sundays instead of attending church services?
AK: The reason why I decided to disassociate myself from football was that it conflicted with my new calling. I realised that both the church and football need total commitment to operate successfully.
As a footballer, I realised that without total commitment there was no way anyone could be successful as a player. You always need to go the extra mile as a player in your training to build up stamina and excel on the field of play.
It was the extra individual training I undertook during my time with Kotoko and the Black Stars that put me streets ahead of other players who competed with me for position.
The same applies to the church. As a pastor, you need to be totally committed to your call to enable you to prepare very well to deliver during church services to win souls for Jesus Christ.
In Ghana, Sundays are the days for worship, and it is the same day that many football matches are played. Before church services on Sundays, I need to prepare well during the days, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.
GS: Can I say that football has no place in your life now?
AK: Exactly so. Football has no place, but that is not to say that footballers cannot associate themselves with Jesus Christ. The only conflict is that while the footballer should have been in church on Sunday to worship God, he would be at the stadium playing to entertain football fans.
However, footballers who want to be so committed to God can spend time on other days to commune with God. After training in weekdays footballers can be at churches in the evenings to worship God.
GS: Tell us about your family.
AK: During my days as a player, I led a wayward lifestyle so I gave birth to two children. This was before I became a committed Christian but afterwards I realised that my way of life was in conflict with the desires of God, so I abstained from sex for five years before I got married to my wife.
For now, we have four children, two males and two females. So in all, I have six children.
GS: How supportive has your wife been in your Pastoral works?
AK; My wife has been very supportive in many ways. She is a trader in Kumasi and, therefore, manages my home in every way. Her financial support enable me become very committed to the work of God.
GS: Tell us about your academic background
AK: I did not pursue high academic ladder in life. I started my primary education at Dechemso Local Authority School and completed in 1971. From there, I went to Radisco at Asokwa to learn about radio and electronics, before gaining employment at the KNUST as a Laboratory Technician. It was from there that I started playing for Asante Kotoko.
At the colts (juvenile) level I played for Indece in Kumasi and Ashanti United before playing for Kotoko.
GS: What message do you have for the youth with potential in football, especially how they relate with women?
AK: My message is that unlike our time when football was played for mere entertainment, the present generation are lucky that they can build their career on football.
They have attractive sign-on fees and enjoy huge salaries. Their sign-on fees can buy a house or be invested in a project to generate revenue for them.
They should, therefore, spend more of their time training to develop their skills instead of wasting their physical and emotional energy and time on women because it can distract their commitment and ruin their careers.
Footballers should always be in top shape but this cannot be possible if they spend much of their time with women. When they train well and prove themselves as talented, both local and foreign clubs would be willing to pay huge sums of money to sign them on. There are scouts who come to Ghana to look for quality players; hence, the need for footballers to be committed to their career.
GS: What do you tell players who have the belief that juju helps in their career?
AK: My message to them is that juju has no place in football. They should be focused on their training to develop their talents.
I played at the highest level for 14 solid years without involving myself in any form of juju. The only thing that put me ahead of my mates was training early in the morning and in the evening after our training sessions.
This made me excelled in my career.
GS: Who guided you on your individual training sessions?
AK: I trained alone in the mornings but the late Major Yaw Lawson guided me and George Kennedy in our evening training sessions. He took charge of us at the Kumasi Sports Stadium for our physical training to build our stamina in those days.
GS: What message do you have for the present Kotoko management?
AK: The present management should appreciate that Kotoko is not an ordinary team. It has many supporters worldwide. The fans cut across the country so they should leave a legacy for the club by not only recruiting quality players for Maxwell Konadu but should also ensure that there is total unity among the playing body at all times.
There should be mutual respect for management and technical team as well as the playing body to induce the team to excel in their local and continental matches.
They should commit themselves for not playing for playing sake, but to win trophies at the local and continental levels. Without such trophies, they cannot be counted among the legends of the club in any way.
I am now counted among the legends of Kotoko because we won the continental trophy for Kotoko in 1983. It was through our commitment and focus that we won such an enviable trophy. Many players have played for Kotoko but they just passed through and their names cannot be counted among the legends.
GS: What is your message for the playing body of Kotoko?
AK: The players should appreciate that playing for Kotoko is a privilege; hence, the need for them to be very committed and focused to enable them to make names for themselves and family. Thousands have played for Kotoko but few left a mark which had been admired by all.
GS: How do your church members assess you as a Pastor and a former footballer?
AK: They are happy that they worship God with one of the finest pastors who also played football at the highest level. They sometimes seek my opinion about the performance of the club when Kotoko is playing at the local league or at the continental level.
GS: How has former and present management of Kotoko collaborated with former players?
AK: The management of the present management invited some of the former players to interact with the current players. The initiative paid off because it motivated the players to perform well. However, the relationship was not sustained so we are not as close with them as it used to be. My message is that he should keep faith in God in his desire to take Kotoko to a higher level. He should have a set of good players and good coach for him to succeed.
GS: It has been nice talking to you Rev. Thanks for your time
AK: Thank you so much for coming for the interview. This is my first time of granting such a long interview and I enjoyed every second of it.