Charles Kumi Gyamfi’s resume is replete with laudable achievements and personal records that would be hard to equal, let alone break. CK, as his football peers and fans preferred to call him, made an immeasurable contribution to the development of Ghana football. Under his charge, the Ghana Blacks Stars were simply invincible, an absolute delight to watch. He made his nation very proud and happy. From all indications (hall of fame inductee, and so forth), CK was a hero. More importantly, he was a visionary who taught Ghana a valuable lesson with his illustrious life, a lesson we must never forget.
Unfortunately, CK was underrated; he deserved much more recognition that we gave him. For all that he achieved for Ghana, his compatriots did not sing his praises loud enough, so the younger segment of the Ghanaian population today, including the present-day black stars, don’t even know the CK Gyamfi tale. I was born just one generation after CK. I did not see him play, but I remember seeing him as the coach of the winning national team in 1982. Before his death, I, like many others, regarded him as just a famous footballer and a very successful coach. He was a lot more than that. Gyamfi was indeed a paramount role model for all Ghanaians, not just footballers. His qualities are worthy of emulation.
Gyamfi’s commitment and dedication to his vocation of playing football for his beloved country, Ghana, was almost unbelievable. He was also very progressive, seeking to develop the sport at every opportunity, and in whatever capacity – player, coach, administrator, or ambassador. According to his biographers, he was the first player to use football boots in the then Gold Coast, while spearheading a vigorous campaign for a break with the practice of playing football with bare feet in those days.
Gyamfi the Patriot
Ghana will remember Gyamfi as one of her most devoted sons. CK quit his dream job as a professional footballer in Germany, of all places, and heeded the call to become the national football coach of Ghana, a position that offered a relatively little material reward. He put his national pride above all the glory, fame, and wealth that beckoned him in Germany.
This great man worked hard all his life. He once withdrew his football-playing services from Asante Kotoko, on a matter of principle, and successfully formed Great Ashantis, a brand new football club in which he featured as player-coach. The Great Ashanti achievement must have taken a great deal of hard work and courage. He apparently studied hard on the football coaching courses too, because after graduating from football academy, he became a splendid football coach.
As coach of the Ghana national football team, Gyamfi would make his players train, practice, and go through the drills until they begged him for a break, according to Osei Kofi, one of the stars coached by CK to win the championship in 1963 and 65. Gyamfi had an incredible work ethic
“Made in Ghana” may be better after all
The all-important lesson CK taught us is that Ghana will be more fruitful if Ghanaians develop a made-in-Ghana brand. When CK led the Black Stars to win the African Cup for the first time, he was the only African coach in the tournament. That was no fluke because he repeated the feat in the next tournament two years later.
Why did the GFA (Ghana Football Association) abandon this winning formula, in preference to hiring ready-made foreign coaches who have woefully failed to help Ghana maintain her status as the pacesetter of African football? After winning the African Cup for a record fourth time in 1982, before some of the current highly-ranked African teams won it even once, the national team has been experiencing a trophy drought. In fact, the present black stars have never experienced their country win the AFCON!
Of course, building our particular brand as a recipe for success applies to all other aspects of our national life, not just football. For this reason, we should keep the memory of CK Gyamfi alive. We will be better off developing our nation ourselves instead of relying on foreign investment and expertise. We have the resources, and it is not that difficult to get the know-how if we do not have it already.
Sometimes life is not fair. Gyamfi won three African Cups for Ghana, yet in monetary terms, Ghana paid him almost nothing, compared to the vast sums of money paid over the years to imported coaches who could not inspire the Black Stars to win any silverware.
By his hard work, patriotic attitude, progressive outlook, a sense of purpose, and unshakeable determination to succeed, Charles Kumi Gyamfi taught us a valuable lesson: Ghana will be more efficient if we Ghanaians build our nation ourselves.
Written by: Theo Acquah
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