The World Cup beckons but where is our commentary?

Come June 2014, Ghana will make a historic third consecutive appearance at the World Cup. This is indeed great news considering the numerous advantages that accrue to nations taking part in the biggest assemblage of the football fraternity.

Apart from the huge financial benefits that participating countries stand to rake, depending on how far one goes in the tournament as well as sale of mechandise, there is also the free global advert that participating countries stand to enjoy.

Until quite recently, most people used to refer to Ghana as Guyana but since our two times appearance in the world Cup we have become more visible to the international community.

The World Cup beckons but where is our commentary?
Coming home, the World Cup has always served as a rallying point in pulling us together as a people with a common destiny. Thus football and for that matter the world cup puts together what politics puts asunder.

The entertainment value is equally huge as men particularly, are glued to their TV sets and most pubs are filled with patrons watching matches amidst chewing of khebab and gulping of all kinds of liquor. This is often to the chagrin of wives as husbands return home late, drenched in alcohol and sweat and not in the mood to perform their husbandry roles.

From all indications therefore, the World Cup period bodes good for most countries Ghana not excluded. Productivity will suffer a bit. But who cares about productivity when Warris is on the war path, Messi is mesmerizing and Ronaldo is rolling all over the place.

For those of us from the very well-endowed but poor countries of the world travelling to Brazil to watch matches can only be a dream. With an average income of about two dollars a day, it may be easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of a needle than the average Ghanaian to be at the Mundial.

In fact for some communities that I know, if they were to sell all their personal belongings including sponge and towel just to sponsor only the assembly member to go and watch it on their behalf it will still be a pipe dream. Of course the distance from Ghana to Brazil has not also help matters.

And this is where reliable accurate and professional commentating comes in. For those in the cities who may have access to DSTV, half of the problem is solved. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of those of us who would be fed by some of our local TV and radio stations.

To put it mildly the standard of commentating on some of our networks is not only appalling but simply nauseating.

The essence of commentary is to remove the distance barrier between the viewer and the match venue so that one can follow proceedings and feel like being present at the stadium. This can only be achieved based on the depth of knowledge of the commentator and the quality of his delivery.

To be able to do this, the commentator must know the rules of the game and must be generally knowledgeable. In a recent match an apparently ignorant commentator who did not know the difference between countries, kept interchanging Guinea with Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea to the consternation of some of us.

It is also important that the commentator remains neutral so that his personal sentiments are not displayed. In a recent encounter between the Black Stars and another team the commentator spent 90 percent of the time talking about only the Black Stars. My wife who does not follow football pop out of the kitchen to enquire whether the Black Stars were playing against themselves today? When I asked why she said the whole commentary was on the Black Stars. Didn’t the players from the opposing country also have names?

The question then is who qualifies to be a commentator? Elsewhere it is a profession on its own and attracts well paid professionals. Here it is seen more as a hobby. It is of a little wonder that just a handful of commentators in Ghana can be counted among the best. What happens on radio is even worse as a young presenter with limited vocabulary both in English and vernacular attempts to infuse a heavy dose of comedy into an otherwise straight forward job of narrating events just how they happen.

The root cause is the lack of training for “would-be” commentators.

But good commentary is an important component of football and that is why we must take measures to up that department of the game to make the World Cup more exciting to our people.

A story is told of a school in the Brong Ahafo Region (name withheld) who invited the Achimota College for a debate.

The Achimotans accepted the challenge and made the long journey to Achirensua for the debate. Meanwhile a form one student had been put on sentry to observe the arrival of the Achimotans and report same to the senior prefect. The boy, on spotting the Achimota school bus arriving dashed back to the dormitory and in a frantic voice shouted “SP, SP ACHIMOTA FUO NO ABA AKA BROFUO A Y3 DE KOHYIA W)N. To wit, this is to say… Senior Prefect the Achimotans have arrived with what English are we going to welcome them. If they don’t even have the appropriate English to welcome them then how are they going to have the debate? Your guess is good as mine.
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