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The sinking of Ghana sports and its unmerited investment

Kwesi Nyantakyi234 Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 Source: Emmanuel Mensah Dabie

“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules. It teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose. It teaches you about life as well,” said Billie Jean King.

Mr. Speaker, Honorable Members, All Protocol Observe, I’m Hon. Emmanuel Mensah Dabie of the able Majority caucus presenting before the floor of parliament on the statement titled “The Sinking Of Ghana Sports And Its Unmerited Investment.

Mr. Speaker, Ghana is a country with a rich heritage in sports. Popular sporting events in the country include football, boxing, tennis, basketball, hockey, and athletics.

Of all the above mentioned, the most practiced and participated sport in the present Ghana is believed to be football, boxing and athletics.

In the past, Ghana sports authority (main governing body of sports in Ghana) have often cut funding for many sport disciplines in order to ever increase the funds available to its football (soccer) programs. Because of this decision several sports events on the African continent such as the All Africa games have seen limited Ghanaian participation and also at the world level at large.

MAJOR SPORT DISCIPLINES IN GHANA

1. Football 2. Boxing 3. Athletics

FOOTBALL IN GHANA

It is on record that the game of football was introduced in the Gold Coast region towards the close of the 19th century by merchants from Europe.

Under the government of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, soccer underwent a major development. In his book “De macht van de bal” (The power of the ball) Edwin Schoon writes: “Nkrumah used soccer as a tool to clarify that Africa did not need to bow down before anyone, and certainly not before imperialists.

Now Ghana football is administered by the national governing body Ghana Football Association (GFA).

Football is the most popular sport in the country and it is represented internationally by the various national teams being the male and female national teams either at the juvenile level or the senior level.Also, club football teams in Ghana may represent the country internationally.

Ghana in football ball has produced a lot of talents to play at the top flight leagues in Europe and the other parts of the world. After all these achievements and successes attained, there are always vigorous canker inflicted upon the development of football in the country.

Currently;

The Ghana national team is doing well and this spills over into the local leagues. In the past few years the team has attracted a number of big sponsors. At the big clubs- Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko and Liberty Professionals – in Ghana players earn a good salary according to Ghanaian Standards.

However, there are a lot of corruption in Africa soccer and the development of the North of Ghana remains behind that of the South. Many club officials and players are focusing on transfers to Europe. On the one hand this will bring money into Ghana; on the other hand it undermines the development of local leagues. Another big obstacle is the major focus on the national team. There is a lot of prestige to be had here and a lot is being invested in the team. It’s on record that the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) can confirm receipt of communication from the Ghana National Petroleum Cooperation (GNPC) that its Board has approved an amount worth of US$1,500,000 to support development and sporting activities of the ministry. And I dare to say there is always a “But”.

Presently, Ghana is ranked 52nd in the world football according to the Coca-Cola World football ranking.

BOXING

Boxing as a sporting discipline has also taken Ghana afar after the sport was well constituted and recognized in the 1920’s. The nation participated in the 1952 Olympic Games and won no medal yet the interest in boxing kept developing until some lucrative boxers appeared in the scene and sold Ghana to the rest of the world through the incredible bouts they won.

In the world of boxing we have seen some great boxers like Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, David Kotei (D.K Poison) and presently Joshua Clottey and Nelson Agbeko.

The juvenile development of boxing is plagued with a lot of problems and deficiencies although Ghana has names to mention in this sport.

Previous governments and the present have all got shortfalls in helping to develop and reaffirming the boxing discipline. A credit to the just immediate out gone government to have built the Bukom Boxing Arena for the nation which serves as aid in revamping the sport.

ATHLETICS

The Ghana Athletics Association is responsible for the development and promotion of athletics in Ghana. Ghana has won several laurels on the international stage ever since gaining independence from the British in 1956.

GAA's has adopted a policy of revitalizing athletics in Ghana by encouraging the young ones to take an interest in the sport. The current Association led by Prof. Francis Dodoo, has staged many competitions in the country since their election in 2010. Yet the significant improvement and development has not been recognized.

SOME INSTANCES OF SPORTS SCANDALS IN GHANA

1. A new report from Transparency International says most of FIFA’s 209 member associations Budget for the event, which lasted a little over a week, topped $50,000 and corrupt dealings are rife about the Sakaa Acquaye-led National Sports Authority organized event. little or no information about how they spend millions of dollars from world football’s governing body. Highlighting the potential for corruption, the study into the governance structures of the federations questions what the FAs do with the more than $1m they each received from FIFA in 2014.

Among the findings: 168 federations, including the Ghana Football Association, do not make financial records publicly available; and 85% of FAs publish no activity accounts of what they do.

According to the report by the Global anti-corruption body, the Ghana football Association scored ZERO, in all four categories of the 2015 Football Governance League Table.

2. NSA Deputy Director General (Technical) Sakaa Acquaye.Wheelchair Basketball contingent paid 100 Cedis by Sports Festival Organizers Alarming reports reaching Basketballghana.com indicate officials who played pivotal roles in the successful organization of the Wheelchair Basketball event at the just ended National Sports Festival in Ghana have been short-changed. Inside sources reveal with the exception of Ghana Wheelchair Basketball Federation President Max Vardon, all non-playing personnel who were in the West African country’s Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi for the games, have been given 100 Ghana Cedis equivalent to $22.61 American Dollars. Budget for the event, which lasted a little over a week, topped $50,000 and corrupt dealings are rife about the Sakaa Acquaye-led National Sports Authority organized event.

3. The Black Starlets was banned from taking part in 2015’s U-17 tournament in Niger for playing with an unqualified player in a qualifier against Cameroon Ghana was been banned from the 2015’s Under-17 Championship in Niger for fielding an ineligible player in a qualifying game against Cameroon.

4. FIFA Disciplinary Committee effected a life time ban on Ghanaian match official Joseph Odartei Lamptey for taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at national and international level for life.

The official was found guilty of breaching art. 69 par. 1 (unlawfully influencing match results) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on 12 November 2016.

5. Poor management by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Premier League Board (PLB) resulting in the delay of the start and end of the Ghana Premier League season and difficulty in attaining better sponsorship deals.

CHALLENGES OF SPORTS DEVELOPMENT IN GHANA

When it comes to sports, Ghana is a force to reckon with. In recent times, Ghanaian sports men have exhibited to the world, some superior skills in various sports disciplines.

Ghana has still got a lot of challenges and puzzling circumstances to overcome in terms of developing sports and some of which I have identified are under listed below;

1. Disconnect between Inter school sports and the national sports council. Disconnect between Ghana education service Physical education department and the national sports council. The physical education department of Ghana education service is in charge of organizing inter-school sports around the country. It is through this competition that a lot of new talents are revealed. However during such competitions the only thing that sports council executives do is to get there and read long scripts at the opening and closing ceremonies.

The athletes at the end of the competition go back to their regions and villages to wait for another year or two for another regional’s event. What should happen next after the inter-schools? How many school athlete are recruited to join regional teams? Is the hierarchy functional so that regional level athletes are refined and recruited to join for example, east, west, north or south teams? Do we recognize athletes as All Ghanaian capable of joining a national team or an olympic team? What is the role of the Olympic Development wing in the country? Is the Olympic development wing able to tap talents from east, west, north and south teams to constitute a developing Olympic team? Does the Olympic Development wing have a cadre of coaches to work with these talents when they are identified? There appears to be a clear disconnection between the various facets of sports in the country. This is a very serious matter.

In the developed countries, like the USA, the NCAA can be compared to the Physical Education department in Ghana. The Education Department oversees all inter-school sports when talents are unearthed. The organization works close with regional, as well as school coaches, who follow up with the athletes with good counseling services, equipment and other pertinent training materials. Athletes are advised on future competitions, training events etc. We do not have a clear view for sports development in the country. Should Ghana Sports, in part, be school-based? If yes, then we have not done much in that aspect. Schools can produce talents if sports development is targeted, in part, to schools, colleges and universities.

2. The need to change officials of the Ghana Olympics committee and sports association after four years in office. It is unfortunate the way members get selected to the various national sports association as well as the Ghana Olympic committee. The sad part of is that these associations have become money making machines for the members. They get to travel for free to competitions abroad and paid huge stipends for doing nothing but to go shopping and sleep in big hotels which they could never afford on their own. There are people who have been members of various associations for over ten to fifteen years and had never been changed and may not be changed until they die or resign. Should we measure success by years of service in committee or by products and achievements? We are not heading the right direction when it comes to sports development. The disconnect is evident within departments and committees. No doubt, we are clueless about our own potential and developmental pattern. We interject foreign face into our sports industry and pay heavily to invigorate our growth pattern but always short-lived. We need to connect the facets of the sports industry in country more tightly and with purpose for national development rather than individual pocket enrichment.

3. The need to hold officials of the Ghana Olympic committee, national association, interim committee officers accountable after competitions. Furthermore, it is very sad that as Ghanaians, we fail to identify the cause of most of our failures during such competitions and the blame is always blamed on the coaches and players. For the purpose of this article I would like to use the Ghana Black queens as an example. Before the China games the GFA selected the queens organizing committee, they were responsible for the training, selection, and the total running of the queen’s affairs, which I believe they did. After the poor performance at the Women’s World Cup nobody, until this day, has called for a probe into the preparation towards the competitions and events that really happened during the competition.

The sad part at the present time is the same people are still in charge of the queens and we should expect the plateau effect because there are no new ideas and no consequence for these organizers.

4. Selection of officials and sports stake holders should include educated sports personnel, former athletes and not business men. It is very sad that Ghana has two well-endowed Health Physical education Recreation and sports departments at Cape Coast University and University of Education Winneba and when it comes to the selection of sports association and committee members and coaches, we end up appointing businessmen, owners of sports apparel shops, sports journalist. For example, Joe Aggrey is to spear the affairs of sports. I would describe these people as the blind leading the blind

Solution The Ministry in conjunction with the national sports council should make sure that outstanding HPERS students should be seconded to the sports council. Also, in selecting committee members, a fraction of members should be from these departments as well as previous athletes who will be there not for monetary gains but for the love of their country and sports. Also since they have studied about the fields, such as ethics of sports, they will perform better than the laymen that we have on the committees; for example, someone plays tennis at stadium club so that would qualify him to be a Ghana tennis association member rather than a tennis player who may have a first or higher degree in sports from Winneba or Cape Coast.

5. The need to give International exposure to athletes. Years ago Ghana had what we called the scholarship secretariat where a lot of Ghanaians who excelled in school, sports and other fields were given scholarships to attend prestigious colleges abroad with the view of gaining some international exposure and expertise. At the return of the scholar he would become beneficial to the country as a whole. What has really happened to such scholarships? As I mentioned earlier on most, athletes from the Caribbean’s e.g. Jamaica are all students based in USA or Canada.

6. The provision of top notch training facilities, equipment and coaches Training facilities, equipment and coaches play a vital role in sports development. It’s unfortunate that the Accra sports stadium has been converted into a soccer stadium in a third World country that has very few facilities. I don’t know whose idea it was to eliminate the athletic oval during the construction and instead send the oval to Elwak stadium which belongs to the military. Until today Ghana still does not have any well-equipped athletic training facility or gym for our athletes to train. About a year ago we received a container load of equipment in a form of donation from Japan; I would like the Chief Executive to tell us where those equipment are.

7. The need for an exemption on custom duties on all sports equipment. Sports equipment costs too much in Ghana; most of these high prices have been necessitated because of the high custom duties on sports equipment. During the introduction of the International Tennis Federation school tennis initiative there was loads of equipment, such as tennis racquets that were shipped from the ITF to Ghana for the program. All this equipment was locked up at the ports because of bureaucracy and lack of exemption duties on these equipment.

8. The need for the Development of quality training programs and sports education programs. The days are gone when you get into the Accra sports stadium at three o’clock from the main entrance. The sports Hall is filled with numerous table tennis boards with Hatramani coaching. Also gone are the stadium tennis courts with coach Abraham Owuo (deceased)of the GES, coach Nortey Dowuona, coaching children tennis, the Oval where you had Rose Hart and others coaching athletics outside the stadium, the hand ball at the Osu end. When will we get such programs again? If you want to know I am willing to tell you what the future the results of these programs would be, I can give you countless names. So the question is, are we missing leaders?

9. The need for sponsorships of tournaments and competitions. The need for sponsorships of tournaments and competitions Gone were the days when we have all kinds of sponsorships. I remember the Mobil games, Milo Tournaments, Afko Tournamnet etc, and the forces games. Tournaments and competitions give athletes the platform to showcase to the world their skills and talents. Constant training without competition kills the motivation of the athletes.

10. The lengthy tenure of office of Sports Officials. The avenue created for sports officials to hold office for more than two terms is also a great nuisance that downplay the development of sports in Ghana. The longer their stay in office, the higher the probability of underperforming since they might not have a feel of new practices and adaptations.

THE WAY FORWARD

Various personalities and institutions have sought to offer solutions to the challenges that have bedeviled sports in Ghana among which are the following I adopt as my own.

There is a need for fast tracking of the Sports Bill which would seek to replace SMCD 54 OF 1976 regarding the various aspects of sports management, promotion and development in Ghana to bring to current international best practices.

• Handbook: The Sports Ministry should develop a handbook to serve as a guide to each sporting association and to clarify their responsibilities and duties as well as a list of accountability and transparency measures. This handbook should provide them with a clear indication of Government’s development priorities in sports.

• Grassroots Development: The Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports should work with various stakeholders such as football Clubs, Academics (talent development centres), Schools and colleges, research institutions, Physical Education instructors to run grassroots programmes at both national and local Communities. The Ministry should take the lead in building solid relation with the various stakeholders and communities to propose feasible grassroots projects.

• Facilities Development: The Government should ensure district and municipal assemblies carry out their mission by using the sports component of the Common Fund to assist in using the sport component of the Common Fund to assist in provision of sporting facilities, projects and programmes of sustainable sports development. The Government should encourage private entrepreneurs to invest in local sports development.

• Patriotism: there is an urgent need to address the remunerations and bonus of our athletes and sporting personnel. The Ministry needs to reorient our athletes to appreciate the significance of wearing the national colours at international competitions.

• The Tax Relief: The taxes and levies on football clubs in Ghana makes it impossible for clubs to break even. The Minister should liaise with the FA and GHALCA to argue for tax exemption, especially in the payment of VAT on game proceeds and approximately 20 per cent levy paid for hiring and maintenance of sports facilities. This should be a temporary measure until sports development is fully developed into a business capable of paying for itself.

Mr. Speaker, observed protocols and readers, I duly say per the concerns addressed, sports in Ghana is truly declining and the various emerging panaceas should be considered in revamping and reaffirming sports in Ghana.

Thank you.

REFERENCES

SportsinGhana.com Ghana sports online Southerntimesafrica.com Sports Impact Group Ghana Peace fm online

BY: HON. EMMANUEL MENSAH DABIE (GOVERNOR) UEW-K

MANAGEMENT 200E

IMMANUELBEST95@GMAIL.COM

+233546181897.

Source: Emmanuel Mensah Dabie