- SA: I find your reference to the use of occultism/juju in the Ghana Premier League very intriguing. I do recall a video on Twitter of several Gt. Olympics players walking backwards into a stadium with hopes of picking up the 3 points as they sought to escape relegation towards the end of the 2017 season. Did that really happen or was that clip a prank?
Following his revealing series of articles on some of the difficulties that ‘local based’ soccer players endure in the Ghana Premier League in the course of their professional careers, we reached out to the lively forward for his perspective and experience in the League.
Abel Manomey (AM) took the Ghana Premier League by storm last season as a forward with the now relegated Accra Gt. Olympics. He scored five goals in nine matches before being hit with a career threatening injury towards the end of the season.
Following a successful operation to repair a torn meniscus, our roving reporter, Simon Aikins (SA), caught up with the quick-footed striker, who holds a B. Sc. (Physical Education) from the University of Education, Winneba, for a one-on-one interview.
Abel Manomey is for now back in the gym, recovering and working his way up with hopes of returning to the field very soon.
Below is the second part of the interview:
SA: You referenced favoritism and extortion by coaches etc. when it comes to player selection in your articles. How prevalent are these two things in the Ghana Premier League?
AM: It could either be an assumption or a reality based on who the coach is. Sometimes, some players just want to show their gratitude to the coach. It is not the coaches who demand it. But, I think it is unnecessary because as a player your duty is to play and not to dabble in such issues. These are things that happen in the lower tier leagues. I cannot pinpoint a particular case in the GPL.
SA: As a player in the Ghana Premier League, do you believe you have ever fallen victim to favoritism and extortion when it comes to player selection?
AM: No, I have not fallen prey to either. I have worked with coaches who are very professional and principled in their work.
SA: I find your reference to the use of occultism/juju in the Ghana Premier League very intriguing. I do recall a video on Twitter of several Gt. Olympics players walking backwards into a stadium with hopes of picking up the 3 points as they sought to escape relegation towards the end of the 2017 season. Did that really happen or was that clip a prank?
AM: I saw the video. I was injured, and hospitalized at the time, so I didn't partake in the act. I don't know why they did that. Occultism is real in the Ghana Premier League. You go to match centers and you see opposing teams sprinkle concoctions on the field.
SA: What is the most absurd thing you’ve seen or heard in terms of occultism within the GPL?
AM: When Accra Hearts of Oak played against Tema Youth in Tema last season. When the whistle went for the start of the game, the goalkeeper of Accra Hearts of Oak laid on the pitch for a while. What I gathered was that, after lying on the pitch for six minutes, Tema Youth wouldn't be able to score against him.
SA: Ever gotten close to being involved in juju in your soccer career?
AM: Growing up, I have always had the belief that God always blesses the hard work of people and will crown it with success. I have never gotten close to juju in my career though I know it exists in football.
SA: You made reference to your stint with Division One League (DOL) side - Kotoku Royals. We do provide some coverage for the DOL, and often refer to it as the ‘Wilderness of Ghana Soccer’. How would you describe the DOL?
AM: It is the most difficult league in Ghana. The absence of ambulances, first aid professionals, and security at Division One League centers makes it difficult playing in that League.
SA: Moving on, some say the current quality of the game, coupled with the usually unbearably long season has turned many fans to the foreign leagues. Any comment and solutions on that from you?
AM: I disagree with that. It is the fans who can make the league gel. There are still quality players in the Ghana Premier League. If the misconception about the league is changed, fans will throng to the stadiums.
SA: Players in the GPL have been known to on occasion air their grievances with short snippets via their representatives, or friends in the media etc. What prompted you to write all those articles?
AM: During the course of my recovery, I didn't want to remain dormant because it is a period for one to be extremely cautious in order not to aggravate the injury by sticking to the prescribed training regime. So in order to be active, I took to writing to bring to the fore the perilous lives of local players.
SA: Are you worried about being considered as too outspoken by your peers and football administrators based on your recent write-ups and electronic footprints, and any impact it may have on your professional football career down the road?
AM: I'm not perturbed if my write-ups are misconstrued as being too outspoken by football administrators and my colleagues if the issues are true. The truth shall stand. Also, as regards the potential of my electronic footprints having a dire impact on my career, I believe as a player, if you are confident, and know your potential, people's actions and inactions should not bother you.
SA: Given your educational background, the financial difficulties, the longevity/shelf life of footballers in Ghana, why haven’t you quit for something more promising?
AM: I see my talent as a free gift from God. My belief growing up is that if I don't work with it, I have God to answer to. Moreover, given the few seasons I have played, I have become a role model to others in my community who saw me hustling. Football is my passion.
SA: Moving to the mundane stuff, any views on the recent Black Stars Team B, and any chance of you earning a call-up in the near future?
AM: Without my injury, I would have been part of the team looking at my blistering form, scoring five goals in nine matches. I congratulate them on winning the WAFU Tournament. It is a motivation to all local players.
SA: Any views on the current Black Stars coach - Kwesi Appiah - and sentiments on the country missing out on Russia 2018?
AM: Going away to wallop Congo was a great feat. I don't recall any coach doing that. With team building, introducing new players is a good start. In the near future, he is going to have a formidable team to qualify for the World Cup and win the AFCON.
SA: What country would you like to see win, and why?
AM: Germany, because they have a formidable side. They play more as a team which puts them in the best position to win the World Cup again.
SA: Who are the local and foreign players that you model yourself after and have influenced your game significantly? Which local player to you?
AM: Abel: Sergio Arguero has influenced my game greatly. We have almost the same traits, predatory instinct in the box, and the same physique.
SA: What do think about those who played the game before you out of their hearts and were barely paid?
AM: I feel sad for them. Those, I watched were really masters of the game. If they had the support, they could have been coaches, set up academies, and extend whatever they learned to the current generation. The PFAG should go to their aid for them to be strong to extend their experiences to the current generation.
SA: With Gt. Olympics fate in the Premier League uncertain at this particular point in time, are you planning to stay with them?
AM: I will still be with the team until my contract expires, then I will take a decision.
SA: With the exception of matches between Hearts and Kotoko, and several rivalry matches, the stadiums are virtually empty on match days. Any solutions/suggestions to help address this?
AM: There should be more publicity, gate fees should be reduced, free entry for women and kids. Also, tickets should be used for raffles for fans to win prizes. These things will increase patronage.
SA: What two questions would you like me to ask that I haven’t? Ask and provide answers for them.
SA: Before we wrap up, what's your final word for the sports authorities, Ghana Premier League fans, and Division One League fans?
AM - They should keep supporting the league, move to the stadiums to pay and watch matches, the various stake holders should give avenues to sponsors to come and sponsor the league as well
All these will help promote the local football in Ghana.
SA: What are your plans for life after soccer?
AM: I'm aspiring, and praying to be a lecturer one day. I want go back to my University to motivate, encourage, teach and push people so that the world will be a better place for us.
SA: It is always a pleasure to talk to an Old Tom (former student of St. Thomas Aquinas Sen High Sch) . The myghanalinks.com sports team would like to take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery and the very best in all your future endeavors.
AM: Thank you!
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