Bofoakwa Have Paid the Price for B/A’s Latest Spate of Hooliganism & Lessons Must Be Learnt This Time
Even in a season when acts of hooliganism have stained football around the country and across divisions (surprised, anyone?), arguably some of the most disturbing incidents were recorded in the Brong Ahafo Region.*
Many would recall with no fondness, for instance, match officials being beaten at a Division One League (DOL) Zone 1 game in Wamanafo, near Dormaa, with the centre referee even having quite a few of his teeth knocked out.
Then there was that episode in the regional capital, Sunyani, toward the end of the DOL season, when referee Maxwell Hanson awarded a seemingly dubious penalty to visiting Real Tamale United (RTU) and was chased all over the pitch by irate fans of the home team, BA United (BA); once overtaken and overpowered, poor Hanson was given a beating — oh, and his assistants weren’t spared — so bad that the match had to be terminated prematurely at half-time.
We didn’t know it then, but the consequences would prove far-reaching — ultimately decisive, too — in determining which team won the zone.
As part of the verdict issued by the Ghana Football Association’s Disciplinary Committee, RTU were awarded three points — for a game which they probably wouldn’t have won — that, on the eve of the season’s tense final matchday, had them breathing down the necks of Bofoakwa Tano, table-toppers and BA’s immediate neighbours.
Now, there’s been little love lost between BA and Bofoakwa in the decades during which they’ve co-existed at the Coronation Park, but as the latter went on and on — closer and closer to the finish line — even the former couldn’t help but admire.
But Bofoakwa still had it all to do, going into their 30th game last weekend, away to another neighbour — albeit one a little more distant — Berekum Arsenal. The Gunners, though, weren’t so keen to ease their guests’ efforts, and ground out a draw which handed the solitary Premier League slot to RTU (who had done the needful by beating Kenyasi outfit Unity FC) on a head-to-head technicality.
So, na who cause am?
Bofoakwa, for not taking their chances?
Or Arsenal, for not being ‘neighborly’ enough?
Maybe, maybe not, but BA would have to bear some — no, much — of the blame, as things could have played out very differently had they not gone wild on that fateful July 4 evening. The cost, too, won’t be borne only by Bofoakwa; this is a loss for the whole Brong Ahafo, a region that has so much to be proud of regarding its contribution to the Ghanaian game.
It wasn’t so long ago that the head coach (Kwasi Appiah), his assistant (Maxwell Konadu), and captain (Asamoah Gyan) of the Black Stars were all from Brong Ahafo. Gyan, remember, is also the all-time top goal-scorer for Ghana, having broken the long-standing record of Kwasi Owusu (a Bofoakwa legend, also from the region). Then you have Baba Yara — arguably the greatest to have ever kicked a ball on these shores — from Brong Ahafo, along with a third of the last nine winners of the Ghanaian top-flight.
Bofoakwa’s promotion would have made them the fifth Brong Ahafo club in next season’s Premier League (no region would have had more); flip the coin and, last term, the Hunters were only one of 10 Brong Ahafo sides in the DOL’s 16-team Zone 1 (no region had more).
And yet all that — all that has been achieved by Brong Ahafo and could still be achieved — is being threatened by a record of hooliganism that appears to get worse and more appalling with each passing season.
Hopefully, Bofoakwa’s near-miss is the highest price that this great region would ever have to pay, and by the time the wounds heal, vital lessons should have been learnt.
*The region has been politically split into three (Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo), but it still remains ‘Brong Ahafo’ in the context of football administration.