Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu
Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu

Ghana needs Right to Dream model - Agyemang-Badu Advises GFA

Former Ghana international, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, has advocated a return to grassroots development as a pivotal step towards the development of Ghana football to groom a steady stream of talented players developed from the grass roots through to the elite divisions to ensure a consistent flow of top players through the right transitions.


In advocating an effective grassroots development system, he believes the Ghana Football Association and the government must replicate the successful model being operated by the Right to Dream Academy which in recent years has produced a stream of top talent for European clubs and the Black Stars such as Mohammed Kudus, Kamaldeen Sulemana and Ernest Nuamah, among others.

A product of a successful youth development system, the former Black Stars midfielder said it was important that the Ghana FA prioritised talent identification and development as a key component of its overall development policy akin to the five-year development plan by the Ben Koufie-led FA over two decades ago, the implementation of which ensured Ghana qualified for its maiden FIFA World Cup in 2006 and ensured sustained progress many years later.

Speaking on Accra-based UTV last Saturday on the state of Ghanaian football, Agyemang-Badu said it was critical that the FA established a talent identification office within the GFA, staffed by former players with expertise in spotting potential to help identify talents for the national coaches.

He said the system operated in Ghana by the Right to Dream had proven to be very successful, hence there was the need for the government and the FA to create a national academy modelled around the academy run at different times by retired Black Stars players such as Derek Boateng, Laryea Kingson, Michael Essien and former assistant national coach, Mas-Ud Did Dramani, the Technical Director of the academy.

"Where is Right to Dream getting its talents? Which people are doing  the work for Right to Dream —Laryea, Didi Dramani, Essien and Derek as their head scout. They scout the players here, train them here and abroad and after eight years we go and invite the graduates to play in our national teams," he lamented.

"Why don't we set up a talent identification office for the game at the FA, let him [Boateng] work and identify U-15, U-17 talents for the national coaches? It's an important setup we need and we must employ someone trained in that field."

For the retired star, the poor performance of the national teams lately was a direct result of the abandonment of a bottom-up development model which produced an array of stars, including Samuel Inkoom, Andre Ayew and he himself to win the African U-20, FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999 and ensure a smooth transition to the Black Stars.

Apart from the Black Queens, none of the national teams bring us glory these days. We have to go back to the basics such as the inter-school competition or colts football where the talents are abundant and are best identified, he said.

"I'm happy with the FA's U-15 catch-them-young policy, which is a fantastic idea and it may take time before we see the results and we'll have strong national teams again," advised the retired star who represented Ghana at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.

Agyemang-Badu, who enjoyed his best years in the Italian Serie A with Udinese before moving to Turkey, advocated that such talents from nationwide scouting must be kept at the GFA's Technical Centre (Ghanaman Centre for Excellence) at Prampram and groomed over time and made to play against teams from the West Africa sub-region and in their various clubs as they make smooth transitions through the age-group teams just as existed when Ghana dominated the Under-17 and Under-20 competitions which gave rise to a strong Black Stars squad that enjoyed sustained successes until recent years.

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