WHAT LEAGUE OR REGION HAS BEEN THE MOST PRODUCTIVE FOR GHANAIANS?

By October 7, 2020 Articles

As we begin match day 2, and Serie A was beginning a fortnight ago. I began having a thought. What leagues in Europe, or otherwise. Worldwide, have been most productive or fruitful for Ghanaian’s.

In thought, I gathered some data, by way of participation.According to transfermarkt.com. This list below, are players who are native to the selected country, ‘Ghana’, and are currently playing outside of the country. So it doesn’t include the diaspora. Click here to find these details and the filter via transfermarkt.com

Europe (Other):

Sweden – 33

Turkey – 22

Denmark – 21

Belgium – 19

Switzerland – 14

Austria – 14

Czech Republic – 12

Serbia – 8

Croatia – 7

Slovakia – 7

Romania – 6

Norway – 6

Poland – 5

Greece – 5

Malta – 4

Europe (Major/Top 7 leagues in Europe):

Germany – 192

Italy – 74

Spain – 42

Portugal – 40

England – 34

France – 15

Netherlands – 6

 

North America:

USA – 57

Asia/North Africa:

China – 3

India – 13

Israel – 10

Lebanon – 11

Saudi Arabia – 9

Kuwait – 6

UAE – 6

Qatar – 6

Egypt – 10

It’s very interesting reading. As stated, with reference to England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. The list doesn’t include the diaspora. Ghanaians that would also be British for example. Players that would be products of the academy system. Players that would be part of a professional football club, from the U23’s down.

In my findings I wanted to include South America. But I couldn’t find any information on transfermarkt.com, as to players playing in any other countries than Venezuela. I say that this. Outside of Ghana, according to Wikipedia in 2013. Brazil had largest population with 442,189. Followed by the US with 116,807 (2011). The UK with 100,000+ in 2015. Italy with 50,414 (2015). The Netherlands with 40,000 (2003). And Germany with 29,590 in 2015. You can find these details via Wikipedia (Click Here) 

This topic is a little different to the podcast. Where in episode 16, featuring Junior Jimbah, in our ‘Through the Lens’ episode (click here to listen), we discussed the best Ghanaians to feature in Europe.

Just a reminder as to my initial thought. ‘What leagues in Europe, or otherwise. Worldwide, have been most productive or fruitful for Ghanaians.’

What is fruitful? It’s objective. It’s a topic with so much nuance. So let’s run through some of these nuances.

*Youth and Senior opportunities – At academy and senior level.

*Our past and present successes. With a view of the future.

*Pathways that currently exist, and academies and pathways such as the Right to Dream and Nordsjaelland partnership.

*And what countries provide a gateway into some of the bigger football markets? A platform to display your talents before a bigger move.

With the emergence of talent in the Ghanaian game. There’s argument to say we’re in the midst of a golden generation. Whether we do, or whether can take advantage of the diaspora playing at some of Europe’s biggest clubs. You need a system in place in order to produce results. You need a system to monitor and mentor some our talent coming through. The Right to Dream and Nordsjaelland partnership is a great example of a system. And there recent acquisition of Michael Essien as a player coach, who will mentor players coming through is a great coup. In that so much of this was needed when players went to Europe, or joined bigger clubs following our World Cup success in 1995. Inset – Michael Essien.

Curacao, now managed by Guus Hindink, have a population of 165,000. The FIFA ruling of being able to switch your international allegiance if you haven’t been capped in a senior international competition, such as a World Cup qualifier, changes the landscape. This has presented an attractive opportunity for Curacao, and countries alike to attract the diaspora outside of their country to play and represent them. It’s been loophole that Italy have taken advantage of in recent years, with World Cup winning players of the likes of Mauro Camoranesi. With so much of the diaspora in prominent sporting nations. It’s a great opportunity! Inset – Mauro Camoranesi.

For the Ghanaian National team. The best isn’t here. The best is to come. But as with performance analysis, let’s use the facts and figures. Let’s use the data to guide us. Let’s explore what opportunities each region or league provides. For Ghanaian nationals and the diaspora. Let’s use as much data as possible to draw a general conclusion. But as close to factual as possible.

Spain & Portugal – Both leagues have become a market in which has become increasingly attractive to Ghanaians – with Thomas Partey being the standout name. Players are choosing either leagues at a young and attractive age, with a view of breaking into 1st team. Common, but most notably, and recently with Yunus Musah. Inset – Yunus Musah.

England – Home to The Premier League. The most exciting and lucrative league in the world. Up until the early noughties with Desially and Essien. Our history in The Premier League, was only by way of folklore. With Tony Yeboah and his impact with Leeds Utd. The Premier League wasn’t a market we had been successful in. But all that changed with the signing of Michael Essien, from Lyon to Chelsea. And since then, there have been many Ghanaians who have been successful in England and the UK. Including the diaspora who are coming through the academy system and have represented England at all levels. Inset – Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Germany & Netherlands – Home to the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie. Very similar profiles in relation to history and the diaspora, who in both countries are coming through the academy system. Representing those nations at youth and senior level. According to the stats, the Netherlands has only 6 Ghanaians. And although that may not be a true reflection. It may show despite high profile Ghanaians playing for the Oranje, in Memphis Depay and Myron Boadu. It’s not common as with the Bundesliga with 192. Tony Yeboah again, as with many more, such as Samuel Kuffour have folklore legend with their impact in goals and success/trophies. Inset – Myron Boadu.

France – France shows a better reading for Ghanaians than my initial thoughts. And perhaps this because of the high influx of Africans who play in this league. With the influx of Africans playing in France, not only must the network and pathway to play in France be good. But it must be incredibly competitive.

Inset – Seth Adonkor and Marcel Desailly for Nantes

Italy – Italy surprised me just a little. With not only at the time Mario Balotelli, becoming the 1st Black and Ghanaian player to play for the Azzuri. But with the figures (72), and where Italy placed on the list. 2nd. Like Portugal and Spain, it has become a market that has become increasingly attractive to Ghanaians. Behind only Germany in the list, and ahead of the UK. Italy just like other nations, are having an increasing amount of Ghanaians, the diaspora, who are coming through the academy system and representing them at all levels. More so at youth level. But it may be matter of time. Inset – Mario Balotelli and Sulley Muntari

The US – An emerging market. And in so, so many opportunities are available in place a like The US. The progression the USMNT, and The MLS has been incredible over the past 10-15 years – both the marketing and the competition on the field. Both these factors make it an appealing market to join. With the leagues ability to showcase your talents to the world. Ghanaians are not only able to do that. But in some cases are able to get scholarships to US collages which provide them with a) an education. But b) an opportunity to play football professionally. Inset – Samuel Tetteh.

Europe (Other) – For many other European clubs. The jewel in the crown is in recruitment. Africa is a goldmine for some clubs, and some agents too. Some countries in Europe, and I’ve been specific in naming them markets. Is because in this case, they are – emerging market. Where a lot of groundwork takes place. It’s where a lot of the development and increase in the players profile occurs. It’s not too dissimilar in some of the leagues that I grouped in the major/top 7 leagues. But it’s where some clubs and agents take more risks in pursuit of reward – performance and increase in player value. Inset – Francis Narh.

Asia – In Asia, I included the Middle East. In years gone by. Players have gone to pastures new. Places like China and India in twilight of their career. But like parts of Africa, these are now opportunities players take up given the chance. There’s not only a financial incentive. But slowly and increasingly, it’s a market the world of football are taking notice of due it potential.

South America – I found this region interesting, because of the lack of data. Or lack of numbers – in participation in this region. But the data showing the number of Ghanaians outside of Ghana was staggering, with 442,189 in Brazil in 2013. And while there isn’t much productivity, or participation. I do have a question. How many Ghanaians, or Brazilians, could qualify to play for Ghana? A very interesting topic and investigation for another day. Inset – Samuel Owusu.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. It’s a debate that’s objective, and there are likely to more factors and nuances. I’ve created a poll to get your thoughts, in which you can comment as well (Click Here).

As always with our podcast – like, share, subscribe/follow. We’ll be publishing another article at the end of October. We’ll posting as usual vía social media keeping up with the stories as they unfold in the coming weeks. As always if you have any questions or queries. Email us at teamghanaeu@gmail.com or tweet or DM us at @teamghanaeu on IG or Twitter.

 

Written by Andrew Mensah-Twumasi @andrewmensahjr (IG/Twitter)

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