- Ghana, as a footballing nation, boasts of an array of superstars like Abedi Pele, Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan and the like, who have rubbed shoulders with footballing legends on the world stage
- On three previous occasions, the senior national team, the Black Stars, have qualified for the World Cup, and this year's edition at Qatar 2022 will be no exception as the country is one of the five representing the African continent
- The footballing talents have not been limited to Ghana's players as some politicians, including President Nana Akufo-Addo, Vice President Dr Bawumia and the late President John Evans Atta-Mills, have at one time or the other, represented their school teams in footballing tournaments
- YEN.com.gh compiles below some of the country's political actors who excelled at football but have now hanged their boots
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Ghana is known as a footballing powerhouse on the African continent. The country, which will play in its fourth World Cup in Qatar 2022, has produced footballing greats like the legendary Abedi Ayew Pele, Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, and Asamoah Gyan, among others. But the depth of Ghana's footballing talent is not limited to just professional football players. At some point, some of the country's famous politicians dabbled in football and displayed great skills as amateur football players.
YEN.com.gh compiles a list of Ghanaian politicians who once excelled as football players but have now hanged their boots for the suit and tie of political life.
Most of these politicians who now sport protruding bellies and look heavier in weight once had athletic bodies, which aided their footballing careers.
The political actors who are now the duty bearers in society and among its highs and lows once took barking instructions from the touchlines. Most of their coaches and trainers, who they succumbed to, are now at the receiving end of those instructions.
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From those who have blazed the trail and acceded to the highest office of the land as Presidents to Ministers, Members of Parliament, among others, YEN.com.gh unveils to you this enviable list of political officeholders who abandoned the lush green fields to shape the country's political and socio-economic fortunes from the seats of political office.
Despite some of them being archrivals currently due to their opposing political ideologies, they once jelled and assisted each other in their respective football teams.
President Nana Akufo-Addo
Sitting firmly on top of this list is the current president of the Republic of Ghana. The president once played for the prestigious elite school, Lancing College, in the United Kingdom. During his formative years in 1960, when he attended the school, Akufo-Addo became a household name as he was the only black footballer in the white-dominated University school team.
Back home, when he attended the University of Ghana, the football prowess of the president again came to pay, and he was part of the students who represented the Legon Hall in various inter-Hall competitions as well as other local and international ones.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
During his days at Tamale Senior High (SHS), the renowned economist was also a player for the school's reserve football team.
Dr Bawumia was said to be so skilful that he was always at the receiving end of tackles during his playing days for the school.
However, he cut short his footballing dream when opposing mates always gave him rough tackles whenever he passed the ball during competitive matches.
He also revealed that those tackles, coupled with his height disadvantage, made him shelve any idea of pursuing a professional career in football.
Late President John Evans Atta-Mills
Despite suffering several ailments with Sinus eventually cutting short his reign as president in 2012, the late Atta-Mills, in his youthful days, played like a 'hot knife through butter.' So agile was he that beyond being teammates with the current president in the Legon Hall football team at the University of Ghana, he was again part of the university XI team that participated in various local and international university games.
Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye
The Member of Parliament for Odododiodioo was also an astute footballer during his youthful days. In a recent interview, the former youth and sports minister revealed how he was forced to spend some nights in a cemetery during his playing days in the name of juju.
"I played football and it was like, if you don't get yourself involved in the juju, you will not play. I have eaten and swallowed certain things before, the worst part is one day we were given stones to put in our football boots to play with and in 15 mins you were sore all over so you could not wear the boots anymore," he said in the interview.
That's not all; the politician has also enjoyed stints related to football, has decades of sports journalism experience, and has served as a management member of Accra Hearts of Oak. He is currently a board member of the newly promoted premier league team, Nsoatreman FC.
The Minority Leader makes a strong showing on the list as he remains one of the active political actors who still plays football during their spare time. The Tamale South MP is famed for playing with 'area boys' in his constituency and Bububiashie in the Greater Accra Region during weekends and holidays. He's also the bankroller of Division One side Steadfast FC and is the manager of Black Stars player Abdul Fatawu Issahaku.
Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye
The former Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku also makes the list as he actively plays football on the streets of Teshie when he's not in the medical consulting room or the office as the CEO of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Named after the legendary and one of the world's best players, the former NDC MP for Chiana-Paga played active football and was one of the pioneer players of Real Tamale United (RTU). After venturing into politics, Abuga Pele still kept the flame of football burning and even served as a football coach for inmates of the Nsawam prison when he was sentenced over his role in the GHC 4.1 million Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) Scandal.
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Kobina Tahir Hammond
The Member of Adansi-Asokwa also makes the list by being one of the safest pairs of hands in Adisadel College during the 1960s. As a young student, KT Hammond was his house's preferred number-one goalkeeper and helped keep several clean sheets for Adisadel College and when he schooled at the University of Ghana, Legon.
His agility endeared him to the hearts of his colleague students and school authorities who wanted him to pursue a career in football which he declined.
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