Black Maidens win bronze at FIFA U-17 World Cup
It was arguably Ghana’s most significant sporting achievement this year; when Ghana’s Black Maidens captured the bronze medal at the Fifa U- 17 World Cup in Azerbaijan. Priscilla Okyere’s goal was good enough for Ghana to overcome a numerical disadvantage (they were down to 10 women) as the Black Maidens beat Germany in the match for third place. They became the first African team to gain a podium finish at the women’s U-17 showpiece as well as achieving Ghana’s highest ever finish at a women’s FIFA tournament.
Their win came on the same day as the men’s senior team booked their place at CAN 2013 with a win over Malawi. In my opinion the former was the bigger achievement, because whilst the Black Stars were expected to qualify the Black Maidens were the surprise package in their competition. Their march all the way to the semi-finals was not predicted by many but the earned many admirers on their way there. Traditionally Ghana have failed to make much of an impact in women’s football but could this be about to change now?
One thing is certain though and that is; this achievement needs to be celebrated. Too many times we are critical when things are not going well for Ghana in the sporting arena. Thus when we do achieve success we do not give it the maximum recognition it deserves. Other nations give their sporting achievers knighthoods, honorary degrees and various types of other awards, yet in Ghana we sometimes act if we expect nothing less than victory.
So I was very pleased to hear that on arrival back to Ghana from Azerbaijan the Black Maidens were hosted by the President at Osu Castle. The players will also receive a bonus of $3,000 each for their efforts. It is recognition and incentives like this that will create a culture of pride in representing Ghana in international competition.
My wish is that the young women of Ghana are inspired by the exploits of the Azerbaijan and that their achievement is just the beginning for more success for Ghana in women’s football.
Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)