Ghana has over the years had Heads of State and Presidents who were very much interested in sports.
They followed their passion and contributed immensely to the development of the sports industry.
Notable among them was Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kuffour, Prof. Atta Mills, etc.
Dr. Nkrumah used football as a political tool for African unity, while Acheampong nominated himself as the Commissioner of Sports with Simpe Asante as his Personal Assistant in charge of Sports.
Ghana won their last continent title under the leadership of former President Rawlings. Liman’s government had decided that Ghana was not going to participate in the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Libya, but when Rawlings staged a coup detat that toppled the Liman’s government they rescinded the earlier decision.
The Black Stars participated in the continent’s showpiece and eventually won the tournament.
Ghana went on to play Gaddafi's Libya in the final and won 7-6 in a post-game shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
Stability in the sports ministry
The Ministry of sports is considered to be a volatile area because it has had frequent change of ministers than any other sector since 2000.
However, former President Rawlings entrusted the Ministry into the hands of E.T Mensah and he headed the ministry from 1992-2000.
Successfully hosted the 1999 Africa U-20 Nations
The 1999 African Youth Championship was the tenth edition of the continental Under-20 football competition, held in Ghana. It also served as qualification for the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Ghana successfully hosted the tournament by providing the various training facilities, stadia, hotels, etc.
During the tournament, Ghana defeated West African neighbours Nigeria to win the competition.
World boxing titles
Ghana thrived well in boxing during the presidency of J.J Rawlings. The West Africans produced many world champions during his tenure.
For instance, he created an enabling environment for boxers to excel at the world stage. Jerry John Rawlings opened his doors to them to share their problems with him. One of his closest sportsmen was Azumah Nelson. During his tenure, Ghana produced more world champions than ever. The likes of Azumah, Nana Yaw Barimah, Ike Quartey, became world boxing champions.
Ghana became first African nation to win a medal in Olympics football:
Ghana, who had the youngest team by far in the 1992 Olympic football tournament (18.8 years), were surprise bronze medallists, becoming the first African nation to earn a medal in Olympics football.
They did so in a 1-0 victory over yet another surprise, Australia, finishing the match with their No. 3 goalkeeper, Simon Addo in the nets after Ibrahim Dossey was forced out with an injury. Ghana won on a free-kick goal by Isaac Asare in the 20th minute five minutes after Dossey had saved an Australian penalty.
Ghana survived a man disadvantage in the final minutes to take the Olympic soccer bronze medal.
FIFA U-17 World Cup triumphs on two occasions:
Ghana won their first FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1991 and clinched their second title in 1995. The Black Starlets played in four consecutive finals-1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997.
The Black Starlets made Ghana proud as they defeated Spain to win their first-ever FIFA U-17 World Cup in Italy.
The scorer of the all-important goal was Emmanuel Duah in the 77th minute.
Ghana enroute to reaching the final placed second in group D after finishing with 5 points, just as the group leaders Spain, but with inferior goal difference.
Otto Pfister charges progressed by beating Brazil 2-1 in the quarters, before edging out Qater on penalties after a goalless draw in the semis to set a date with Spain in the final.
The final was expected to generate a lot of thrills because their group stage tie failed to produce a winner.
Ghana who had studied the Europeans played a great game and piped them to win their first FIFA U-17 World Cup. It was richly deserved triumph.
Able to call on just the right blend of individual talent and team spirit, the Ghanaians were never afraid to take the initiative and were ultimately rewarded for their enterprising approach. Expertly coached by master German tactician Otto Pfister, their made-to-measure 1-3-4-2 formation invariably had opponents on the back foot from the first whistle. If the team had a weak spot it was in attack, where they sometimes had trouble converting all their chances, but this could be explained by the fact that they had the youngest squad of all the sides in the competition, with an average age of just 16 years and 1 month. Top of the class for Ghana's youngsters were Kofi Mbeah, Mohammed Gargo, sweeper Isaac Asare, and ace marksman Nii Odartey Lamptey, who scored four goals.
The adidas Golden Ball could only go to one of the members of the victorious Ghanaian side, and so it was, with Nii Odartey Lamptey taking home a very special souvenir from his Italian sojourn. Lamptey was the beating heart of a very good side. His fast feet, speed of thought, and clever interplay with captain Nana Alexander Opoku and fellow midfielders Mohammed Gargo and Emmanuel Duah were on display for all to see. His willingness to get into the box was critical too, and his four goals made him joint top -goalscorer.
Reward and honours
The players were honoured by the state. A street around the Accra Sports Stadium was named after them ‘Starlets 91 Street.
Treasury bill was bought for each of the players.
The Sports Writers Association (SWAG), which is the premier sports awards in the country for the first time named a group as the Sports Personality of the Year and it went to the Black Starlets team of 1991.
Rawlings named a street in Accra after the victorious Starlets team of 1991.
The Players who made Ghana proud in Italy
Coach: Otto Pfister
Ghana after losing the final to Nigeria made it three in a row for Africa as they swept to a thrilling 3-2 victory against Brazil in the final of the 1995 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Guayaquil, Ecuador.