GFA elections: Kurt Simeon-Okraku’s ‘GameChanger’ manifesto lays down a marker

Author: Samuel Ebo Kwaitoo
Hillary Boaten (left), chairperson for the manifesto launch, joins Kurt Okraku to unveil the GameChanger blueprint he says would transform Ghana football

Kurt Edwin Simeon Okraku, an aspirant of the upcoming Ghana Football Association (GFA) presidential election, delivered a tantalising manifesto that would send shivers down the spine of his opponents on Tuesday.

Running with the slogan #GameChanger, igniting passion and creating wealth for all, a vintage Okraku, at his oratory best during his manifesto launch at the Exim Bank auditorium in Accra, held the packed audience, including another aspirant, George Afriyie, and some bigwigs in the football industry, spellbound with the highlights of his broad-based vision, as well as the sources of funding for those laudable ideas.

Hillary Boaten says Kurt Okraku is the best man for the GFA job

The maiden manifesto launch, chaired by Hillary Boaten, Human Resources Manager of Springfield Group, was preceded by a traditional performance by Osei Korankye and his Seperewa group.

When he eventually took to the stage after acknowledging the presence of his campaign team members, led by Jones Alhassan-Abu and some members of the football fraternity with a warm embrace, Okraku highlighted on his long preparation for the top GFA job which began from age 17 when he formed a colts club, Shooting Stars, for which he featured as a player, coach and bankroller.

Preparation for the top job

He said as part of his preparation, he also undertook courses in marketing, sports tourism, information technology and football management in the United Kingdom before returning home to form Premier League side, Dreams FC, in 2009.

According to him, the successes chalked up by Dreams FC and his association with FA Cup as a member, vice chairman and chairman since its revival in 2010 attest to his capabilities.

Kurt Okraku was joined by a rival contestant, George Afriyie

He said he intended to unite the football family to create a future everybody would be proud of under the principles of transparency, accountability and proper annual auditing.

He promised to help Premier and Division One clubs to get basic infrastructural and logistical support such as upgrading of pitches and the supply of computers and internet facilities.

Heart of Lions boss, Randy Abbey, was present to lend his support

In addition, each club would receive 50 footballs and 30 pairs of boots annually, while elite women’s clubs will be supplied with 30 pairs of boots annually and will also play their league matches on approved league centres to make women’s football more appealing.

“Also, the Premier League and the Division One League will be autonomous. We need full-time staff to independently manage our most treasured assets,” he stressed.

Citing the example of Dreams FC, which boasts of a four-year kit sponsorship deal with Nike through the use of their intangible assets such as Baba Rahman and Emmanuel Lomotey, Okraku noted that the GFA could do same by engaging its kit sponsor, Puma, to provide kit for the clubs.

The GameChanger manifesto also sought to decentralise player status sittings to enable clubs to save money while promising to introduce free player registration for clubs as opposed to the current situation where the registration of a player attracted GHc50.

Grassroots development

To develop grassroots football, Kurt stressed the need for the FA to support the Regional Football Associations (RFAs) to keep the game alive.

“There is a lack of logistical and infrastructural support at the RFAs. But we need to lay a solid foundation for a proper take-off. We will review the monthly allowance for the RFA staff.

“We’re also looking at establishing fully functional district offices and also developing some special game centres across the regions to be managed by the RFAs,” he added.

He also revealed that his regime intended to integrate beach soccer and Futsal in its operations, as well as build the refereeing base by recruiting young students as referees to handle colts matches as part of their development.

He also promised to provide communication gadgets for Premier League referees to enhance their efficiency and competence.

He also promised to review the incentives of referees to help eliminate corruption and also seek corporate sponsorship to improve upon their performance.

Okraku hinted that he would revive and package colts football throughout the country to make it more appealing to corporate Ghana, and also establish a fully functional technical directorate for the FA.

Plans for FA Secretariat

He also plans to strengthen the GFA secretariat with a full-time General Secretary, with marketing and communication departments also manned by full-time personnel.

Being a trained journalist himself, Kurt offered to provide free data for media men to enhance their work during league matches as is the norm at Dreams FC’s home grounds at Dawu.

He said the government was a great investor of football and a partner in the development of football and so he would proactively engage it in various ways, including seeking tax exemptions for clubs and urge district assemblies to introduce colts festivals to nurture young talents.

To finance the various policies, Okraku said, he would rely on certain percentages of revenue channels such as the Central Fund, Club Support Fund, Special World Cup Fund and the FIFA Forward Fund.