It was a tough first day of Standard Bank’s Afcon trophy tour but one that I emerged from fully satisfied.
From the long wait at the airport to the visit to office of the Ghanaian presidency through to the press conference and visit to some selected media houses, the significance of taking the trophy around seven countries to connect to the fans was evident throughout.
We love our football in Ghana and everywhere, the joy of seeing a trophy whose previous versions have been here four times in the past was evident. Ghana's vice-president John Mahama spoke of the need to end the long wait and his passionate kiss of the trophy symbolised how much they wanted it. Ghana's Sports Minister was spot on when he spoke of the symbolism of the trophy's arrival.
And his deputy, Nii Nortey Duah, a man whose rich voice brought the big moments of various Nations Cups to Ghanaians on radio hit the nail on the head when he said "The trophy tour this year is vital in driving interest in the 2010 Nations Cup in a year when the world cup threatens to steal all the attention."
My take on going on this tour is simple. It gives fans the chance to have a feel of the trophy they only see on TV, and as an ex-player I know what football means to the fans. They cheer, they applaud, they argue, they save for the big game and all they ask for in return is the simple joy of seeing their sides triumph.
When I walked to face the Accra based Ghanaian media on the first day, the drumming and singing from the Chapter O supporters union, it threw me back to the scene of a stadium with a crowd cheering. Their enthusiasm reminded me of when as a 17-year old I came back to Ghana with this trophy.
And while as a Standard Bank ambassador I am not supposed to be seen to be backing one over the other, the opening day of the tour more than highlighted the burning desire of this nation to win it again.
I am convinced the next days of the tour will be the same. I saw the positive energy and thrill people had from being up close at first hand with the trophy and the opening day of the Stanbic Ghana trophy tour has more than reinforced that.