Sports News of Wednesday, 22 February 2017
When death knocks at your door once, you may take it in stride, but when it visits and visits again, then you are left struck with fear and worry.
That is how the Ghana Football Association (GFA) feels after losing some of its great technical brains in such rapid succession — ‘Sir’ Jones Cecil Attuquayefio, C.K Gyamfi or Nana Gyamfi Kumi I, Nana Agyeman Gyau, Ben Koufie and just as we were trying to recover from the hard knock, death claims Fred Osam Duodu too.
Uncle Fred, Osam as he was variously known in football, dedicated his entire life to football, giving his all to the sport that he described as ‘his window to the world,’ by serving in various capacities, though he is well remembered as a coach.
Osam Duodu was one of the few coaches seconded to the GFA from the National Sports Authority in the early to mid 1970s, and in 1977, put in charge of the Black Stars, then the only national team.
In no time, he settled in the job and in 1978, teamed up with the late C.K Gyamfi, who was the technical director, to win Ghana’s third African Cup of Nations (AFCON) title.
Between 1981 and 1987, he was out of Ghana to further his training as a coach and also work with other countries. In 1988, he returned to Ghana to take up the Stars job again and also to beef up the budding technical directorate of the GFA.
With the introduction of the FIFA Youth Championships, Osam Duodu, with his knack for development, was put in charge of the Under 20 side, the Black Satellites and in 1993, led that team to win the African Youth Championship and went on to also win silver at the FIFA Youth Championship in Australia that same year. He also coached the Under-17 side, the Black Starlets in 2007.
Indeed, a key member of the GFA Technical Directorate, Osam Duodu was often appointed as a stand-in coach for the Black Stars anytime the need arose and so he at various times, handled the senior national team. His last stint with the Stars was in 2002 when led them to the AFCON 2002 held in Mali.
He helped formulate many of the structure policies for youth development for Ghana football and handled some of Ghana’s outstanding players and legends like George Alhassan Opoku Nti, Kofi Badu, ‘Golden Boy’ Abdul Razak, Mohammed Polo, Sampson Lamptey, Opoku Afriyie and Abedi Pele.
Ghana football was not the only beneficiary of Osam Duodu’s ingenuity and technical brilliance. Africa and the world benefitted, as from time to time, he travelled around the African continent to help develop their football at the grassroots.
In 2005, he went to The Gambia, and led their Under-17 team to beat Ghana’s Black Starlets and ultimately lift the trophy in the African Youth Championship, the only silverware that country has won in football.
Though he retired as an active coach, his expertise was constantly tapped by the Confederation of African football, when he was made a coach’s instructor and subsequently, got a similar appointment with world football, FIFA.
In 2007, he was also honoured by being appointed the coach for Africa’s All-Star Under-17 team to play against their European counterparts in a UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup in February.
Osam Duodu was instrumental in most of the development of Ghana’s coaches, providing valuable practical training to many and until his death, was an active member of the GFA’s Technical Committee, headed by another towering figure who unfortunately, has also just joined the ancestors, Sam Arday.
Beyond coaching, Osam Duodu was one of the few coaches, if not the only one in recent times, to also head the GFA Secretariat as General Secretary, ably assisted by Charles Aryeh in the late 1990s.
Osam Duodu was an affable person, not one who would hide his displeasure about things, and would say it as it was and move on. He held no grudges, and was a friend to many, but with the late E.K. Afranie, they forged such a strong bond that went beyond their common interest in the development of young talent.
It is sad and ironic that we lost both of them within the same time and they will be buried on the same day, though at different locations.
The family has lost a gem of a father and elderly family man, but Ghana football has been left poorer because he is gone with his expertise and at a time when he was convinced to team up with Afranie to document their experience into a memoir, but that was not to be.
That conversation was on his 78th birthday on June 4, last year, and in accepting, said he expressed the hope that would be done by the time he turned 80 years, ‘if God permitted.’
However, true to God’s word, man proposes, God disposes, and that project has left a a shattered dream with the demise of both personalities.
Osam Duodu has certainly paid his dues. Ghana football will forever remember him for his dedication and sacrifice.
Damri fa due, Damri fa due!