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Sports Features Tue, 11 Nov 2014

Christian “Ope” Nsiah Endorses Dodoo

Athletics: Christian “Ope” Nsiah Endorses Dodoo – Says Sport being Reborn. Ghana Athletics Not Dead: Being Reborn under Prof. Dodoo’s Administration!

As a former national athlete who is still somewhat involved with the sport, I follow with keen interest the history and trends that Ghana athletics has and is still going through. Before going on I will like to draw reader’s attention to a few facts.

Ghana athletics started seeing a downtrend with the advent of the SSS system which led to a reduction in the time that high school students stayed in high school, which meant that new recruitment and nurturing ideas needed to be put in place in order to sustain the constant stream of new talents to feed the national teams (however subsequent administrations were bereft with new ideas).

Note that prior to these past two years, the last time Ghana could boast of a large number of up and coming athletes and world caliber athletes was 1999 (This group consisted of the likes of Vida Anim, Ignatius Gaisah, Ernest Osei, Harry Adu-Mfum, and Margaret Simpson to name just a few).

This was the group that was billed to replace the athletes of my generation (Myles Mills, Aziz, Nkansah, Owusu among others). Many of the athletes within this group eventually quit the sport because of lack of support and frustration.

Prior to the past 4 years or so, 1999 was the last year that a real national championship was held in Ghana that included both local and foreign athletes. This situation coupled with a lack of clear qualification standards lead to ad hoc selection process for the national teams where better qualified athletes were dropped from the team in favor of coaches and administrative member’s favorites (sometimes even for visa for money scandals).

This was the situation that led me to relinquish my position on the 2002 Commonwealth Games to Eric Nkansah who had a better time that year than myself but for an unexplained reason was not selected for the team. Visit this link for my 2002 article concerning selection problems. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/SportsArchive/artikel.php?ID=25727

You will think the administration would have learned a lesson by then right? Well in 2004 Ernest Osei experienced an embarrassment that no athlete should ever face. He was with the national team at our training camp the whole time, when our tickets for Germany was disbursed he received a ticket and he was even in the first batch of athletes to leave Germany for Athens. Upon arrival at the registration building he was told he wasn’t on Ghana’s final list of athletes submitted from Accra. He wasn’t allowed to enter the games village and had to be put up in a hotel for a couple of days before finally returning to Germany.

The senior athletes decided to find out what went wrong, no answers were provided (even the then GAA President claimed he wasn’t involved in the selection process and wasn’t even aware who was selected and who was not, an answer that angered several of us). It got to a point that we as athletes realized that without us coming together and finding ways of improving our performances, the administrative members will not do anything to help us.

For example in 2003, the relay (4X100m) team members without the help of the administration paid our own way and went to Germany to train together. Eric Nkansah served as our host. We showed up at the Paris World Championships with no coach available with no direction at all. We helped register each other for the competition and also even had to go to the extent of borrowing batons or sometimes even using water bottles for our relay exchanges.

Our hard work finally came to fruition at the Abuja Games that same year where we dismantled a highly favored Nigerian team to win Gold.

I am therefore very happy with this current administration for doing the following: 1. Coming up with clear selection criteria for every competition and disbursing this criteria to the athletes and their coaches at the very beginning of each season 2. Coming up with new local competitions to help unearth new talents 3. Providing overseas training/competition opportunities for these athletes 4. Helping these athletes to secure a future by securing for them scholarships in order to help them compete and also attain higher education (yes some of you may argue that several of them are in community colleges, but if you have any knowledge about how the student athlete system works in the US, you will understand why. Note also that the likes of Veronica Campbell (Olympic Champion), and Tyson Gay (World Champion) all initially went to the SAME community college that some of our young athletes are attending right now. 5. Providing regional coaches that are actually bringing these new talents up the opportunity to travel abroad for competitions in order to attain new coaching ideas (In our days it was always the head coach and a few of his/her favorite coaches that got to the travel). 6. Providing sponsorships for the hosting of junior competitions through the Tsakos Foundation in partnership with the Ghana Education Service.

Yes no administration can be perfect because it is led by humans. Given what I know about Ghana athletics, I will say this current administration led by Professor Francis Dodoo, has done exceedingly well especially in this environment of lack of funding for lesser known sports in Ghana by the Ghana government.

I will suggest that all stake holders come together and work together to bring the sports up even more. The current divisions in Ghana Athletics need to be a thing of the past. All hands on deck.

SOURCE: Dr. Christian Nsiah (3-Time Olympian, 2003 All-African Games Gold Medalist) Christian Nsiah, Ph.D

Christian Nsiah is an associate professor of finance at Baldwin Wallace University. Prior to joining the faculty at BW, Dr. Nsiah was an associate professor of economics and finance at Black Hills State University, where he was also the coordinator of the economics and finance program for 7 years. Dr. Nsiah’s areas of specialty include international economics and finance, and economic growth and development. Dr. Nsiah also engages in consulting work in economic impact analysis, and also in international investments. Dr. Nsiah is an avid researcher and he has published several articles and presented at many conferences included an invited presentation at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Currently, Dr. Nsiah is working on a chapter for a handbook of African economics for the World Bank. Dr. Nsiah holds a Ph.D. in International Economics from Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Nsiah is also 3 time Olympian.

Source: Christian Nsiah