Sports News of Monday, 29 June 2015
Source: New Crusading Guide
It has emerged that the Dzamefe Commission recommended an Assistant for the Black Stars Equipment officer when Ismail Hamidu, the Equipment Officer appeared before the Commission to answer questions on his role but the Commission surprisingly turned around to label him as a Ball Boy; an act which unfortunately has led many a Ghanaian to mock the Equipment Officer and question why he deserved any fees for his work at the mundial.
The Commission in its report under bizarre circumstances described the Equipment Officer of the Black Stars as “Ball Boy” and this led to a cacophony of questions and plain ridicule with some concluding that the decision to award who they saw as a “Ball Boy”, appearance fees was nothing but an example of the corruption that has engulfed Ghana’s football.
A ‘Ball Boy’ is the name given to those who merely collect and throw balls unto the field, once they go out of play. This job is nowhere related to the work of an Equipment Officer as the Commission sought to suggest and indeed, there is nothing like a ‘Ball Boy’ in the Black Star team or any National Team for that matter.
A sports enthusiast who spoke to The New Crusading GUIDE was livid by the description and said and the “description of the Equipment Officer as a Ball Boy is a clear case of mischief, planned by some people to tarnish the image of the GFA”. It is apparent that the Commission itself realising the importance and cumbersome nature of the Equipment Officer to the workings and success of the team, advised the Equipment Officer to push for an assistant to make his work easier.
What is baffling, therefore, is why the Commission after making this suggestion would turn around to label him as a Ball Boy to cause the tremendous public ridicule.
Checks by The New Crusading GUIDE indicate that Equipment Officers, also known as Kit Men, are integral parts of all clubs and National Teams and play significant roles to contribute to the success of Teams.
The Equipment Officer, who is today being mocked as a result of the role played by the Commission, like all Equipment Officers in various teams, is responsible for sorting and maintaining the team’s equipment such as training wear, leisure wear, boots and match-day kits. This involves sorting out the kits according to the sizes of the players, embossing logos of the Sponsors (for example the GNPC which is seen on the training kit of the Black Stars), embossing the names of all the players on the sorted out kits and selecting the other apparel like hoes, socks, shin guards, etc.
Aside this, an Equipment Officer provides the right colour blend for leisure and training and on match days. He also maintains the team by visiting every delegation member’s room and collecting their wears for laundry after training and match days.
The role of the Equipment Officer prior to match days and on match days are even more crucial. Prior to match days, he is responsible for the right jersey size for each player and also ensures that correct names and numbers are embossed on each jersey and that there is no mistake.
This job of the Equipment Officer begins immediately the kits for the Team are delivered by the Kit provider (Puma, in the case of the Black Stars). The Equipment Officer is the one who has to unpack all the bags or boxes with the various kits and sorting them out into the various types.
One close source to the Black Stars who spoke to this paper, recalled how the current Equipment Officer of the team, Ismail Hamidu, had to unpack and sort out kits and accessories in over 700 boxes and bags delivered by Puma to the Black Stars for the 2014 World Cup, before the Team began its preparations in The Netherlands.
The work of the Equipment Officer becomes very intense when the team is involved in travels. It is the duty of the Equipment Officer to ensure that the luggage of all players are taken from their rooms and then ensure all of it gets to the airport and are checked in hours before the players arrive and board the plane.
Once the team arrives at its destination, the Equipment Officer has to wait to ensure that all the luggage is brought down and sent to the hotel or wherever the team is camped. Once the luggage gets to camp, the Equipment Officer has to sort them out and ensure that each player has his luggage.
The equipment officer is also one of those who attend the match coordinating meeting; what we normally call pre-match meeting in Ghana before every match to ensure that the Team’s colours for the match is made known to the officials and that there are no clashes with the opposing team.
On match days, the Equipment Officer is expected to get to the stadium hours before the match to arrange every player’s kit and boots in the dressing room and to make sure that the Team and other staff have every equipment and provision necessary in place before the Team arrives.
During the match, the equipment officer – the men whose role the Commission has ridiculed and labelled as ball boys, are part of those allowed to sit on the bench. In fact, some members of the technical team are not accredited to even sit on the team’s bench during matches but CAF and FIFA and CAF understanding the role of the equipment officer allows them to sit on the bench during matches.
Their role on the bench is also very vital. When something goes wrong with a player’s apparel, they are responsible for replacement. And when a player is substituted, they provides the right apparel for the player taken off.
After the match, it is the duty of the Equipment Officer to go round and ensure that all the Team’s equipment is collected.
The importance of the work an Equipment Officer does in any team is probably underscored by the decision of FIFA to organize an orientation course for all Equipment Officers before any FIFA tournament kicks off. Such courses are also organized for the Medical Officers and Welfare Officers/ Team Managers of the Teams.
The New Crusading Guide can also confirm that contrary to popular thought, Equipment Officers like all members of the Technical Team of National Teams, receive the same appearance fees at the FIFA World Cup and other tournaments where Appearance Fees are handed to players and Technical Staff.
For example, had Spain won the last World Cup, it was expected that each of the players and the Technical Staff would have pocketed 720,000 Euros in Appearance fees and bonuses.
We can also confirm that unlike the Black Stars which have only one Equipment Officer, most National Teams have more than one Equipment Officer. Some National Teams like Cameroon have as many as three Equipment Officers – the Equipment Officer and two deputies This latest issue arising out of the Dzamefe Commission Report confirms for many, the belief that the Commission was set up to do a hatchet job on the GFA.
“This blatant misrepresentation of the facts could in no way be an unintended mistake. It was a well-crafted project to satisfy a certain agenda”, another sports enthusiast told this paper yesterday Joy FMs Gary Al-Smith in commenting on the issue on his facebook wall stated “The issue of the ball boy and $100K gives ammunition to those who feel that the Dzamefe Commission may have had agenda, because it’s quite irresponsible for them to have made that mistake.”