Sports Features Thu, 8 Aug 2013

National Sports Authority must wake up!

For the first time in many months, I am writing on something other than football, but it is a very thorny issue that I am addressing in this piece. This year’s National Unity Games was scheduled to take place from August 11-13 2013 but as to whether the games will take place within those dates in Kumasi is shrouded in doubt, putting it mildly. According to a desk report by the Ghana News Agency, the National Sports Authority needs about GH¢2.5 million to organize the event and the NSA may postpone the event because it is yet to receive any funds from government. I am reliably informed that a meeting took place on Friday August 2 2013 where the leaders of the Local Organising Committee had raised red flags about whether the competition could take off at all because of the apparent lack of funds. Indeed, the GNA report indicates that the NSA wants to postpone the games to December to give it more time to prepare because even if the GH¢2.5 million is available now, the games cannot take place.

Sorry folks, but I am going to let rip and say unequivocally that the NSA led by acting Director General Alice Attipoe is guilty of a shocking lack of pro-activeness with regard to the Unity Games. For starters, was the National Sports Authority just waiting for handouts from government before working? Whatever happened to sourcing for sponsorship? Does the NSA have a marketing wing? If it does, what were its members doing? Were they sitting on their backsides waiting for government to bail them out? Or should the cost of organizing such games fall solely on the shoulders of government? Assuming without admitting that government should be solely responsible, was the budget for the Unity Games sent to government on time? What has the NSA been doing in supervising the various sporting associations in packaging themselves so that sponsors can come in to support?

Let me begin by saying that the NSA should have started sourcing for sponsorship the moment last year’s Unity Games ended. That is standard operating procedure for raising funds via sponsorship. There is an old adage that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Clearly, no attempt has been made by the NSA to source for sponsorship for the games. The ideal situation was for them to seek sponsorship, after which they can seek assistance from government. At least that is what the Ghana Football Association does. You cannot lie down and expect honey to be given to you by letting it drip in your mouth; you have to work for it! Simply put, the NSA has been very lazy in terms of making efforts to seek for sponsorship.

If the NSA has a marketing wing, then those responsible there should either resign or be fired because they have done absolutely nothing! I am letting rip like this because I have it on very good authority that, at the meeting in Kumasi, the Local Organizing Committee realized that the Madam Alice Attipoe-led NSA did not have even one sponsor on board. Because of that, the Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah has had to contact some corporate sponsors to help. My investigations reveal that some of the sponsors contacted were surprised because they had no idea that the Unity Games was taking place in the first place. So the word is that some sponsors are ready to help but are asking for some time, which might lead to the postponement of the Games by a couple of weeks at the most.

It also brings me to another issue I have with the NSA; publicity. I would also question the media wing of the NSA for ineffectively disseminating information. To tell you the truth, most of the other sporting associations expect the media to know their activities without organizing the necessary press soirees and informing the various media houses. Almost a year ago, I was at the El Wak Sports Stadium on assignment for the media house I worked for at the time (Metro TV) when an elderly gentleman approached me and introduced himself as one of the main national athletics coaches. He immediately started lambasting our station for failing to cover the preparation of athletes at the same venue. I asked him one simple question which he failed to answer; whether the Ghana Athletics Association had bothered to fill in media houses with their programmes for the year. Recently, I met the same gentleman at the Accra Sports Stadium on my way to the Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA) offices. He began to make the same complaints and I told him in no uncertain terms that he had gotten it all wrong. As I explained to him, you do not expect to be organizing activities and not informing the media about it. No attempt is made to establish relationships with media houses so that releasing information becomes easy. When that happens, some various sports will not receive coverage by any media house. As the saying goes, “A Business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You are the only person who knows what you are doing; no one else does.” In short, the various sporting associations and by extension the NSA has to be up and doing with respect to publicizing their events. No wonder the Unity Games for this year has received low publicity. Normally you would have expected a media blitz orchestrated by the NSA. That simply did not happen and to be absolutely blunt, I am beginning to wonder whether all is well at the NSA or not.

The NSA seems to me like an organisation that has fallen into a deep sleep and those who matter there have to wake up and smell the coffee because their way of doing things now belongs to the pre-historic age. You cannot expect to organize such a massive sporting event and just sit down and expect government to cover the budget without making any attempt at securing some form of sponsorship; neither can you organize such an event without the required levels of media hype. So my take on the matter is very simple; the NSA is at fault for failing to work and those that matter there have to sit up or lay down their tools and leave because they simply cannot do the job.

Source: Christopher Opoku