'Mummy, Daddy, I want to be a footballer!'.

Author:Djanie, Akua
Position::Reflections of an Ordinary Woman - Column
 
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In the eyes of the African parent of old, to be a sportsman meant one was a failure. But how things have changed. Today's children are not afraid to tell their parents they dream of being a rapper or the next Yaya Toure. It's all down to money and stardom. But at what cost? And is that a good thing?

As recently as twenty years ago, African boys and girls who had dreams of being anything other than a lawyer, doctor or engineer kept them as just that --dreams. Why? Because many African parents had a way of quashing those dreams. For the African parent of not so long ago, pride in their children's careers would only come if the children were in certain jobs. Bragging rights were only attached to being a "professional" and having a certain kind of job. The kind of job that didn't include the arts or sports. Today these children do not need to harbour dreams of a career in sports or the arts any more, some African parents even actively push their children into these fields. What has happened? A number of things:

Sports and the arts is money. Whereas in the past sportsmen and people in the arts may not have been very well paid, today, people in these fields are some of the most highly paid. Let's take a look at football, for instance. Top players such as Lionel Messi rake in as much as the equivalent of 313,000 [pounds sterling] on a weekly basis. The highest-paid African footballer is Yaya Toure, whose net worth is $70m. Now tell me why any African parent would object to that. Whereas just as recently as 20 years ago, African parents would have hung their head in shame at people finding out their son was a footballer, today they beam with pride. If you don't believe me, just ask Didier Drogba's mother. Today, footballers and politicians control the world...okay, so footballers may not exactly control the world, but there is no denying they wield a certain amount of power in society. Just look for example at what happened in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup, when the Ghana Black Stars held the country to ransom over unpaid fees. Even the intervention of the Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama, was not enough to persuade the players to play for Ghana. It was all about the money ... and they wanted to get paid ... before setting foot on the field. The result? Ghana not only flew $3m cash directly from Ghana to Brazil, but also, the Deputy Minister of Sports had the affront to tell the whole world about it and the world watched in awe on live TV...

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