We look at the sports aside football that can be developed to help Ghana
However, Ghana our beloved country which seeks to be free forever keeps getting itself entangled in problems upon problems. Case in point is the fact that sports seem to be non-existent in this land of ours just because football activities have been put on hold due to the fallouts from the premiere of the Anas Aremeyaw Anas' 'Number 12' expose.
Indeed, there is some reason for us to change the way sport is run in this country. It is high time sports was not seen as a recreation but as a business.
We will live ourselves around the passion of the nation but a nation which is diverse in a number of disciplines will as well make us more successful in sports than we actually are.
A perfect example is when Ghana go into any international sporting event aside football.
The story usually begins with authorities managing that sector of sport calling for sponsorship to aid preparation as well financing the trip to the event.
Now from this point, the story goes in two different trajectories depending on the fortunes of the expedition.
It can either go south where the Sports Ministry informs the federation to their face that there are no funds or there is a slight delay until funds are allocated in days to the with little preparation.
The story from the latter continues with an event where the showmanship aspect of it all transpires as a number of statements are made by authorities from the ministry and federations. These gatherings which can be likened to political rallies have a few promises where targets are demanded based on funds given with no preparation.
Athletes go into these events and come back with sub-standard performances and anger is vented at these athletes for only reaping what we sewed.
However, the disappointment and continuous agitations come to not and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
We have set to look into a few of the other sports aside from football where we can intensively grow as a country in order to profit.
There a have been a lot of talks concerning boxing and athletics where Ghana is indeed making some strides internationally. We do want to delve into two sports that have some following locally but its yet to gain that amount of recognition in Ghana.
24th July 2012 had the nation lose one cherished son of the land. It was none other than the late former President of Ghana, His Excellency John Evans Atta-Mills.
The first gentleman who died in office had a love for a sport which was unique to other Heads of States who had come through. His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills was submerged in the system and folklore of Ghana hockey.
Pulse Sports had a chat with Wiseman Ayittey who has followed hockey in Ghana and been an active part in this sport as he listed the problems and how best they could be solved.
Ayittey stated that equipment across board was a huge problem facing the sport.
“Hockey clubs in Ghana lack basic equipment lack basic equipment like Hockey sticks, Kickers for goalkeepers. We have a number of young talent willing to learn about this sport and develop themselves but there is little equipment for them to practice with," Ayittey said.
"There was a tournament hosted for high schools in Ghana and can you imagine one school from Northern region had the first feel of a hockey ball a day before the tournament in Accra."
He also elaborated the fact that Ghana lacked enough facilities to play the sport.
"The only standard turf in Ghana is the Astroturf at the Theodosia Oko Hockey Pitch in Accra," Ayittey continued.
"The Ashanti Region have hockey played at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology campus. Central Regional also play at the University of Cape Coast which is sand-based. The one in Kumasi is not really up to standard but is just okay. However, the Northern region has the game actually played on gravels which is actually unacceptable.”
The solution Wiseman Ayitey gave to all this was that Ghana Hockey Federation must be able to strengthen ties with countries well-endowed in the sport like Australia and Belgium. In order to gain aid from these countries to help us in order to develop the sport here in Ghana.
Wiseman Ayittey also mentioned the fact that umpires were limited to the extent that players had to officiate
"One other problem is umpiring. Ghana hockey has limited umpires in so doing players are forced to be officiating games.
"In a league game, players from other teams umpire and indeed depending on the league standings the players can easily be influenced to officiate in favour of a side."
He did also speak to the overemphasis of the game in just the Greater Accra Region.
"In Ghana, there are a number of leagues played across the country. Nonetheless, it is only Greater Accra Hockey league’s champions that represent Ghana in the Africa Cup of Clubs. That is not right."
He outlined that players are losing interest due to the meagre returns that come out of playing the sport
“A lot of people are losing interest. It is not lucrative. At least Ghanaian footballers get around the region of 300 to 500. Hockey players in Ghana only get 5 CEDIS as Transport & Travel.
"That is for the leaders. Leaders can get people to sponsor because people can sponsor.
"There is actually patronage as you get a number of people thronging the venue to watch hockey but for the players themselves, it’s a challenge.
"The female hockey team competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but really struggled as they managed to register 1 goal and conceded 27 goals in all”
Wiseman Ayittey also gave his thoughts on the very experience that got Ghanaians gnashing their teeth as the female team could only gasp for air.
“In the game against the Hockeyroos of Australia, the commentator did state that the talented Ghanaians managed to make it a 5-0 deficit against the World champions. This can only mean one thing that the ladies on the day had the talent but they had not received the necessary development."
"Ghana lost to New Zealand by 12-0 and got drubbed with other results because of bad results and indeed our coaches are not learning and upgrading themselves.
"The sport is changing and it is about time Ghanaian hockey coaches caught up with the new methods that are being used”
He did allude to how far Ghana has retrogressed in the discipline after winning the first ever Africa Hockey championship in 1974.
“Ghana won the first ever Hockey Africa Cup of Nations but we are now third on the pecking order behind South Africa and Egypt because we have failed to develop our game.”
“South Africa indeed has a number of facilities over the country in different cities and that is why they are now the best hockey team in Africa.”
South Africa are 8-time hockey champions for the male division followed by Egypt with 2 titles and Ghana with 1.
The women’s division has South Africa with 7 titles with only one going to Zimbabwe. It will be interesting to note that Ghana has lost to South Africa in 5 consecutive finals. This probably paints how very close but very far from achieving success in this sport once more.
The concluding statement from all this is that that managing hockey in this country. A lot of work needs to be done with this sport. However, it seems those at the helm of affairs in the hockey fraternity are quite content with the status quo.
Basketball is one sport that has been neglected by the authorities with regards to taking it to the next level. The sport has become very popular amongst the youth since the 90’s but its popularity amongst the youth has not transformed into any reasonable growth with regards to the sport.
Yaw Mintah who has is an ardent basketball journalist spoke to Pulse Ghana on the problems facing the sport and the way forward.
Yaw Mintah speaks to the fact that little bit more investment must be made into the sport.
“The sport lacks finances and I am not talking about the like an indoor court which requires some substantial amount of money. The boys are willing to play but even kits, sneakers and other training logistics to play for the national team are not provided.
"Ghana does not have a standard court approved by the Federation of International Basketball Associations but in that one there is way out by providing funds to make sure Ghana national team play the game in neighbouring countries.”
He also spoke to the fact that basketball lacks the direct structure or plan which is set to streamline players through to ranks to become full-fledged professional basketball stars in Ghana.
A lot of youngsters will commit to soccer because they know that if I work hard there will be an opportunity to undergo trials abroad where the individual can be signed by a club abroad and even in a worst-case scenario hired by a team in Ghana. With Ghanaian basketball, the career path is very risky.
First of all, the league we run in Ghana is amateur where the players are not paid. However, Guys are working in banks, teaching and doing all kinds of professions and playing basketball.
This is because is barely possible to survive on just playing basketball in Ghana.
He then encouraged that push to get for the Ghana basketball fraternity to have a national team to compete in international competitions.
“Imagine Ghana playing in the Olympics and FIBA Championships. That is a big deal. That will indeed motivate the young men in the sport get interested in participating and get the basketball to grow in this country.”
Yaw Mintah gave an example of Houston Rocket’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Philadephia’s Joel Embid who have managed to make it into the NBA after being born and raised in Cameroon.
He did also mention that this very circumstance also pertained to Nigeria where Hakeem Olajuwon set the pace as he starred for the Rockets in the 90’s and today we see Nigerian basketball talents scattered all over the globe.
"Nigeria has the professional league which is being and run and we have indeed seen some talent. One interesting example is Ivorian international Wilfred Romeo Enan who had some education in Ghana with Accra Polytechnic and now has had stints with clubs in Nigeria."
Indeed, the basketball situation in Ghana is very dier and very murky. It is indeed difficult to determine how it’s going but the push will have to be made in that regard.
The Ghana Basketball Association indeed will need make that push from being amateur into becoming a professional body. The truth is the task will not be easy but the easiest way out is to indeed solidify the existing basketball structures in Ghana. The best way to do so by of course pumping in more money.
The schools do have their tournament systems both in second cycle institutions and Tertiary where there are the Sprite Ball Championships largely organized by Rite Multimedia.
The Ghana Basketball Association indeed support the system in schools but the onus lies on this association to indeed find some level of sponsorship to for existing regional leagues and as well create new ones across Ghana. This will indeed create a unique national system where leagues are played regionally.
As the leagues grow, there could be a tournament organized which involves the champions from the various regions where a national champion is being crowned.
The sponsors will as well be able to give players some incentives which will motivate the players until the sports stands on its feet when basketball players in this country can as well turn into full-fledged professional basketball stars.
Ghana can indeed be great again if there is some level of seriousness in the attitude and premium we place on other sporting activities for that indeed is the way we can grow.