“Wo Kum Apem a, Apem Beba.”
This slogan which means “If you kill a thousand, a thousand more will come, is that of the “Porcupine Warriors,” Asante Kotoko Sporting Club of Ghana, adjudged to be the African club of the century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), and without a doubt one of the giants of African football.
In another of our series talking to the ordinary fans of Africa’s biggest clubs, This Is Football.Africa caught up with a supporter of Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko SC.
Umar Mathir: Kindly introduce yourself to the TIFA readers sir?
Aboagye Senyah: I’m Aboagye Senyah, a diehard supporter of Asante Kotoko.
UM: Brother, we always ask our guests this, how safe are supporters at stadiums in Ghana, especially for the big games like when Asante Kotoko play against Hearts of Oak, and what improvements can be made?
AS: As far as I’m concerned, it’s always safe for supporters to watch games involving Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak, despite the 2001 stampede that claimed 127 lives.
UM: A very sad day indeed, may their souls too, rest in peace. So you’re saying, that generally it’s safe in Ghanaian stadiums on the whole?
AS: Some of the venues in Ghana are unsafe for the beautiful game.
UM: What, in your opinion, makes some venues unsafe, and what do you think should be done to improve the situation, Aboagye?
AS: Some of the pitches are not up to standard to host professional league games. I think the authorities should be bold enough to change those venues that are not up to standard. The club licensing committee should review some of the venues. In Ghana we don’t usually see football fans misbehaving in the premier league, except for a few venues like Dormaa, home of Aduana Stars FC, and Tarkwa, the home of Medeama SC.”
UM: Wow, so it’s Medeama SC and Aduana Stars supporters who are the misbehaving ones? I didn’t know this.
AS: Yes, their venues are always unsafe for the away team fans.
UM: Aren’t the GHPL management dealing with this at all?
AS: They are doing it (dealing with the problem), but I think they can improve on the way they’re handling these problems, by meting out a bigger punishment to the offending clubs and their supporters.
UM: In my country (South Africa), our giant clubs used to pull big crowds, and stadiums used to be packed to capacity for most games, if not all. This is not the case currently, how does the GHPL compare?
AS: The amount of spectators are declining. We are not even getting a decent crowd per match, other than the Super Clash, which are matches between Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak.
UM: Any idea as to why this may be happening?
AS: The supporters have this perception that their teams must win their home matches, no matter what many fans feel, that referees decisions should favour them, the home teams.
UM: Is it expensive to buy food at stadiums in Ghana, and is it easy for supporters to get to the various stadiums to watch games live? What are ticket prices like, and do matches involving Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko cost the same as other league matches?
AS: The price of food starts at around 20 cedis (just under $1[USD] R18) onwards. It’s easy to get transport to all the public venues. The gate fees are not the same, a lot of other teams in the league use Asante Kotoko as a cash cow, and increase the price of tickets when their teams play the big teams.
UM: This also happens in our PSL in South Africa. This is unfair to supporters, and from what I’ve gathered, is seemingly happening in matches involving all the huge clubs in Africa I guess!
AS: Yes, very unfair.
UM: For you personally, including buying your ticket, meals, and covering your transport costs, how much do you spend on a match day, just to watch Kotoko playing? I’m using Baba Yara stadium as an example here.
AS: From my current location in Obuasi (approximately 50 – 60km away from Kumasi, I can end up spending up to ¢70 (Seventy Ghanaian Cedis, amounting to around $5 – $6[USD] R108). I don’t usually eat at the stadium, and if Asante Kotoko is playing, I don’t feel like eating until the end of the match, it may be cheap, but due to current hardships people are facing in Ghana, it now feels expensive for most of us.
UM: “The CAF Super League is meant to start next year, would you like to see Kotoko participating?
AS: It’s a good idea, in terms of financial gain, I hope CAF will be able to secure a good sponsorship package for the participating clubs, I will be happy to see my beloved Asante Kotoko being chosen to take part.
UM: Well we are certainly going to keep a watchful eye on the CAF Super League comings and goings. Thank you Aboagye Senyah.
AS: Thank you for this opportunity to make my feelings known.