“The target is to bring the cup home by winning the AFCON 2022. We must go a step further than our second-place finishes in 1992, 2010, and 2015. We must also reach at least the semi-final of the World Cup.”
These were the words of the President of the 4th Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo at a breakfast meeting with the Sports Minister and Chief Executive Officers of some corporate bodies on the 20th April 2021.
The purpose of the meeting was to raise an amount of $25 million for the Black Stars for their involvement in AFCON 2022 and the 2022 World Cup which the president has tasked the team to reach at least the semi-final.
There have been twists and turns about what the $25 million will be used for after the meeting.
The Sports Minister, Mustapha Ussif has ‘clarified’ what the $25 million would cater for, saying the money is for all national soccer teams and not the Black Stars only.
“$25 million budget is for all national teams. Currently, this is an estimate that we have done for our programmes and all our activities from this year up to 2022. Let’s shift our attention from Black Stars, it is for all national teams,” he told Citi TV.
Football, they say is the passion of the nation (Ghana). The government has done its best to ensure that national teams, especially the Black Stars, win a continental trophy after 39 years of clinching its last AFCON title.
All the efforts by the government to aid the Black Stars have been in vain in terms of monies invested into the team.
The story has not been the same for the other sporting disciplines who are pulling above their weight to do something great for Ghana.
These sporting disciplines I call “the stepchildren” of Ghana sports have been neglected compared to the Black Stars.
There have been times where some of these lesser-known sports did not participate in competitions in their respective disciplines due to a lack of financial support from the government and it is high time the government of Ghana focused on other sporting disciplines that are doing marvellously well for the nation.
Boxing as a sporting discipline has arguably raised the flag of Ghana high compared to all other sporting disciplines.
The likes of Professor Azumah Nelson, Clement Ike Quartey, Joshua Clottey, Joseph Agbeko, Emmanuel Tagoe, Richard Oblitey Commey, and recently, Isaac Dogboe, have won world titles for the nation.
However, the government has done very little by way of input in helping the boxing fraternity.
The Tokyo Olympic games come off this year in Japan with three Ghanaian boxers qualifying for the Olympics.
Shakul Samed (finished 7th on the global ranking), Samuel Takyi (youngest boxer to qualify) and Suleman Tetteh (placed 3rd in African qualifiers) have qualified but I wonder if government support could be mentioned since very little was done ahead of their preparations.
The head coach for the national amateur boxing team, Ofori Asare, has consistently called for support from the government for boxing.
The budget allocated to the sports ministry in 2021, I’m told, is GH¢ 34,412,805. The budget is supposed to cover all sporting disciplines registered under the national sports council in the country.
How come a different amount is being raised for the Black Stars and other football national teams alone?
On 29th March 2021, the President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, Mr Ben Nunoo Mensah, pleaded with the Sports Minister, Hon. Mustapha Ussif to fight for budgetary support since he (Nunoo Mensah) thinks the ministry’s budget is inadequate.
Athletics is another sporting discipline that is still begging for attention from the government.
Apart from monetary issues, the government has done less or nothing in terms of infrastructure, hence making it extremely strenuous for Athletes to put up their utmost best in both domestic and international competitions.
The likes of Nadia Ake and Benjamin Azamati are doing their best with the scanty resources available.
The national relay team which won Gold in the recent African Games and performed well in the World Athletics Championship needs more attention since the neglect has been long overdue.
Currently, Ghana’s relay team is preparing for the World Athletics Relays in Poland next month but very minimal attention has been given to them.
The para sporting discipline is another discipline that needs maximum help from the government.
Making its paralympic games debut in the 2004 summer Paralympics in Athens, Botsyo Nkegbe, Ajara Mohammed, and Alfred Adjetey Sowah represented Ghana.
Since then, the National Paralympic team in Ghana has raised the flag of Ghana very high but unfortunately, the absence of help from the government has retarded their progress and impact.
Five para-athletes have qualified for the 2020 Paralympic Games. Yusif Amadu (high jumper), Emmanuel Nii Tettey Oku (para powerlifter), Vida Antwi (para powerlifter), Frederick Assor (cyclist) and Botsyo Nkegbe (wheelchair athlete).
I am personally calling upon the government to help them.
As a sports commentator for the Ghana Blind Sports Association (GBSA) National Goalball Championships, I know what the GBSA goes through just to participate in tournaments.
This year, the GBSA will host the 2021 African Championship in Cape Coast from 6-11 December 2021.
What is the government doing in its capacity to help in the organization of these games?
Other sporting disciplines like hockey, table tennis, swimming, triple jump among others have done a lot for Ghana sports but have been neglected. Hockey has a total of 6 medals for Ghana in International competitions(1 Gold, 5 Bronze).
Table tennis from 1962 has also won several medals in the 2019 Olympics zone two competition in Africa. The triple jump gave Ghana a bronze medal at the last African Games.
I believe half of the $25 million allocated to football can go a long way to help the “stepchildren” of Ghana sports in their quest to raise the flag of Ghana high.
As a proud commentator and the only commentator to run commentary for the Goalball blind sports championship in 2015 (Takoradi) and 2017 (Cape Coast), I believe with a little push, the lesser-known sports will also do well.