National Sports Authority must wake up!

Fri, 1 Jan 2016 Source: John Ashong-Mettle

When the Central Organisation of Sports (COS) came to light under the directorship of the enigmatic Ohene Djan in the First Republic, the idea was to bring all sporting discipllines under one umbrella for their promotion and development.

The idea, of course, was the brainchild of Ghana's charismatic and ineffable first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who gave the director of the COS the free rein to operate without any interference, because the portfolio was under the aegis of the Flagstaff House, the seat of the Government.

Funding was never a problem and Ohene Djan strove to get the best results because the infrastructure and logistics were in place.

That said, I am told those days Ghana recorded ineffable feats, especially in soccer, athletics and amateur boxing. Ghana was the crown in the jewel of sports on the continent and our sportsmen and sportswomen received rave reviews.

While conceding that some achievements were recorded after the first republic, much more successes could have been chalked had efforts been made by subsequent chief executive officers to consolidate the gains made by the COS

But as the years went by, things started to fall apart.The structure started crumbling and the strength of the technical and administrative staff dwindled as a result of poor service conditions and lack of adequate funding to support the various sporting disciplines because the economy of the country was going through rocky patches.

Now, it is a shame that while other stadiums are plush with green and inviting pitches, the reverse seems to be the case in Ghana where the National Sports Authority (NSA) has left ours patchy, bumpy, bushy and unattractive.

Fact is, Ghana in recent years has not achieved much in sports, citing that apart from football the other sporting disciplines are adrift, wandering in the wilderness.

Things have deteriorated to such a level that Ghana boxing will not be answering the roll call when next year's Olympic Games hit the ground running, leaving the ordinary lover of the game asking which direction the discipline is headed.

Money is nothing if it is not backed by a good working plan. A striker may have the golden boots but will still be useless if he has no skills to put the ball in the back of the net.

What I am saying is that it is about time we stopped paying eye-service or lip-service to the appointment of misfits to the sports sector.

For us to reclaim our glory, we must set a long-term development programme and work assiduously towards it. Having said this, to achieve something meaningful and significant, we need an astute administrator and a versed entrepreneur.

As an enthusiast interested in the prosperity of sports, I think it is time we changed our ways and paid attention to running sports as an industry.

I don't have the name for attacking the competence of officers charged with the responsibilities to manage a sector ministry. However, it is important that the President appointed an astute, professional and experienced sports administrator, as was the case during the General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong era, to provide professional advice to develop sports in the country.

I read that Sempe Asante, who was the adviser to Kutu Acheampong during his regime, was credited with many of the country's sports achievements. I believe that the government of the National Democratic Congress is blessed with the most experienced and competent sports administrators, including Benson Tongo Baba, who could offer good advice on sports.

The All Africa Games are over so many would reckon that it's all water under the bridge so it should be banished from our thoughts. Be that as it may, however, we cannot forget the hue and cry by some personalities within the sporting arena, who shouted on rooftops, threatening a boycott of the events if the government failed to give funds for the championship.

That shambolic stance is still resonating with us and the bottom-line is that we must get to the bottom of the shameful attitude by those, whose brainchild it was, to undertake that inimical stance in the lead-up to the All Africa Games.

For far too many times we have had these insanity gaining grounds and it is time to nip this canker in the bud.

Going forward, was it not absurd for the chairmen of the various federations to complain bitterly about inadequate funds in the lead up to the All Africa Games?

Were the federation heads unaware that funds had been provided for some of these competitions they competed in by the international bodies, for example, the International Olympic Committee(IOC) for the Olympic Games, the Queens office for the Commonwealth Games?

And I am told that the Africa body gives help in terms of finance to assist participating teams prepare for the games.

I want to bat an eyelid to some ignorant fallacies that l am a bounty-hunter and that was what occasioned the article titled ‘Ghana Sports need BT Baba’.

That said, l feel it is my bounden-duty to pitch in on the developments rumbling on in the sporting arena. Going forward to break with the past, there is no denying the fact that Ghana sports requires major government funding, as well as massive corporate sponsorship to be able to regain its glory.

However, truth be told, Central Government is not a charity club. It must know which side its bread is buttered and l will not begrudge government when it puts money into football because the Black Stars always rake in financial rewards for participating at the World Cup.

I want to set Ghanaians straight on this matter that I am not campaigning on behalf of anybody, citing that I only do things that my conscience tells me are right.

Having said that I will put the searchlight on the Ghana Olympic Committee regarding how money received from the Queens Office, the International Olympic Committee, have been trafficked.

Fact is, the organisations or institutions mentioned above have gained trust and established their bonafides because of the values they uphold.

I raised an eyebrow over the absurdity on how chairmen of the sports federations complained bitterly about inadequate funds in the run-up to the All Africa Games when on a radio programme at Uniiq FM/GBC Radio, two federation heads confirmed that they had received an amount in the region of $5,000 (Five hundred thousand dollars) for preparations towards either the Commonwealth or Olympic Games but, according to the federation heads, were used to purchase bonds contrary to what they were meant for.

The Ghana Olympic Committee must come clean on this to tell us whether what is being said is true or not. As an apostle of anti-corruption, l want the GOC to set us straight on how much the Queen’s office gave for the Commonwealth Games and how much was received from the sports ministry to participate at the Games.

Again, the GOC must set the record straight regarding how much it received as grants allocation from the International Olympic Committee for our preparations and participation at the London 2012 Olympics.

The nation must be told how much was received as per diem from the sports ministry since available evidence points to the fact that during BT Baba's time he never took a dime from the ministry as per diem because the international bodies made arrangements for all its officials during such competitions.

What is even shocking is that the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been in the dark over these monies coming in anytime we are about to take part in these competitions.

To buttress this point, I was recently called to the ministry and in a chat with Mr Otor Plahar, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry, he said the sector had never been in the know of these arrangements and exclaimed with sadness how these federations often received help yet they would pile pressure on central government to give them monies for competitions under these trying economic conditions.

Source: John Ashong-Mettle