Soccer in Ghana’s Nana Osei Kofi Abiri returns to the world of football for a chat with Dutch born Ghanaian footballer Sir Ralph Owusu (17). They discussed him playing for the Black Stars one day; his future at Ajax; and his efforts to play for a big club in Europe. It’s Thursday evening 21:30, Soccer in Ghana visits the Owusus at Purmerend. Purmerend is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. The city became the trade center of the region but the population grew relatively slow. Purmerend has seen major expansions and still continues to do so until the present date. These expansions have turned Purmerend into a commuter town; many inhabitants of Purmerend work, go to school or spend their leisure time in Amsterdam.
Leicester City´s John Paintsil and Samuel Inkoom remain Ghana’s main men at right back, but long term, we need to get a third option that is considerably younger than these two because Paintsil and Inkoom will soon be nearing the twilight of their careers and Opare (also a right back) has made the left back position his. In my view Ajax´s (Under 18) Sir Ralph Owusu could also be looked at (Ghana´s junior teams) even if he does not merit a Black Stars call up now. He is one for the future.
Sir-Ralph Owusu popularly known as ‘Sir’ or ‘Siro’ by his friends was born on January 1, 1994.The young lad lives with his siblings and parents in Purmerend. Sir-Ralph comes from a Christian home. Mr. Owusu Yeboah (glued to the TV set as he watches the Fulham-FC Twente Europa League game) is sitting next to his son in their living room as the interview starts. Ralph’s kid brother Leeroy (15) leaves the room as the interview begins.
Tell me more about your family
Ralph: I have 4 siblings, all boys. My younger brother Leeroy also plays for Ajax (Under 16) side. My youngest brother will also start his football career next week.
Are you still in school?
Ralph: Yes, I study Business Administration at Horizon Hoorn School.
What do you do at your leisure time?
Ralph: I spend a lot of my time with my family and friends. I also jog and train a lot.
Where do you mostly spend your vacations?
Ralph: I go to Ghana (Kumasi) once a while.
Do you have a girl friend?
Ralph: Yes [He smiles].
Who´s your dream girl?
What is/are favourite movie(s)?
Ralph: Coach Carter
What is/are favourite television programme(s)?
Ralph: Voetbal International and Dino Show.
Do you like reading?
Ralph: Not really, but read my school books.
Do you have a car?
What do you mostly eat?
Ralph: I eat porridge in the morning, cornflakes in the afternoon and potato chips in the evening.
Do you eat before a game?
Ralph: Yes, I eat very early in the morning.
The New Daniel Alves
How did you start out in the game, where did your passion for football come from?
Dad: He started playing football when he was eleven years old. He begun playing in defence but was transformed into a striker when he moved to OSV. Ralph was then deployed as a midfielder when he initially joined FC Volendam. He played as a defensive midfielder most of the time. The then coach of FC Volendam B1 later made him a right back because of his speed and his ability to initiate attacks. That’s how he got to Ajax. He has never looked back since.
Ralph: My dad used to play football when he was in Ghana. I think that’s where the passion came from.
Dad: I never played professionally but I was a very good footballer. I was part of the Suhum Secondary Technical school team. I used to play for Jupiters, a team based in Nkawkaw at juvenile (Colts) level and played against Abedi Ayew Pele and many other stars of yesteryear. My dad did not allow me to continue because there was no one at home to pound fufu for the family. He would always complain when I got home late from training.
What is your goal/ambition?
Ralph: I want to reach the top, absolute top. I want to play against and with one of the best footballers in the world.
How has it been for you at Ajax?
It has been great here. You are taught all that needs to be known in football. The training one gets here is one of the best in the world.
Did you ever doubt yourself?
I have never really had doubts about my talent. The only moment I doubted my self was when I was not selected by the Oranje Under 17 coach (Netherlands under 17 team).
What is your favourite position? I have played in several positions but I prefer playing at right back.It’s my favourite position because of my speed and my ability to start attacks.
Who is the best player in the world in your opinion right now?
Ralph: Lionel Messi. He can do anything with the ball .
Who is the best right back in the world in your opinion right now?
Ralph: Daniel Alves. I want to play like him.
Who were your idols growing up?
Ralph: Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Alves and Ronaldo.
Which clubs have you played for?
Ralph: Purmersteijn,OSV,FC Volendam and Ajax .
What is/are the moment(s) you remember the most in your short career?
Ralph: The day I scored a hat trick against Ajax when I was at OSV.
What is/are the low point(s) you remember the most?
Ralph: I was very disappointed when I was not selected by the Netherlands Under 17 team coach.
Who is the most difficult opponent you have faced?
Ralph: It’s Nathan Kabasele of Anderlecht and the one I hope to face one day is Lionel Messi. He’s every defender’s nightmare.
Do you have football friends?
Ralph: Yes, of course I have. Jody Lukoki (Ajax), Ola John (FC Twente) and Frank Olijver (FC Zwolle).
Who would you like to change your day with if you were given the chance?
Ralph: Kevin Prince Boateng. He has gone through a lot. He has seen it all. From Ballack´s injury to becoming a star in another country and then representing Ghana after playing for Germany since his childhood.
What would it mean for you to play in a big club in Europe?
Ralph: My dream is to play for Chelsea, Real Madrid or AC Milan.
Who do you think will win the 2011/2012 Eredivisie?
Ralph: Ajax will definitely defend their Eredivisie title. They have a good team and they have made great additions to the side this summer.
Do you ever see yourself playing for the Black Stars?
Ralph: It’s my dream to play for the Black Stars one day but I now want to focus on playing for Jong Oranje (the Netherlands youth team)
What if both the GFA and KNVB invite you at the same time to play for their respective national teams?
Ralph: Very difficult question. [He pauses and takes time to think].I think Ghana.
What do you think was the key factor in the Black Star’s 2010 FIFA World Cup success?
Ralph: Ghana played more football. The team had self belief and they played as a team.
The Way Forward
What is the way forward for Ghana football?
Dad: Ghana does not have a clinical finisher. Our strikers do not know how to shoot on target and their ball placement is very poor. One Ghanaian striker was invited by Ajax to come and train with them. He impressed the coaches with all that he did. But his shooting let him down. It was so abysmal. So he couldn´t get the contract and had to fly back to Ghana. That´s our main problem. But I think the problem is a continental one. Africa does not really have clinical finishers. For instance, Real Madrid sent Eto´o on loan to Mallorca when he first arrived in Spain to improve on his goal scoring and he´s now of the best in the world. Our strikers are too tiny. We need big muscular men as strikers. A striker has to be very built and tall.
One thing that the Turkish national FA does is that every summer they send scouts all over the world (mainly Germany since they a large number of Turkish nationals living there) where Turkish nationals are to monitor them and organize tournaments (sort of a mini-national team) so that they can best the best crop of players for their national team .That´s one thing I think Ghana must also do because we have a lot of talents in the diaspora. The GFA always wants to wait for someone to be a star before they show interest in the person. We have to start from somewhere. I quite remember I invited an official from Ghana to watch my son play but he never turned up.
The sky is the limit for Ralph.
Thanks for your co-operation.