The whole essence of the tasks I have set for myself is to outline those issues that should engage the undivided attention of the new Minister for Youth and Sports as soon as he is sworn into office after nomination by the President of the Republic for the period of 2021 to 2024.
Usually Ministers enter the first day of life, after Parliament approval and sworn in by H E the President of the Republic, to a baptismal fire-fighting instance like the favorite national team, the Black Stars billed to travel outside for an AFCON or FIFA WORLD CUP qualifier or otherwise a local one with the opposing team arriving the evening, then the interest groups descend to set the tone for the rest of his / her tenure of office. Then, there is the perennial issue of the outstanding salaries or contracts for the football coaches of the national teams, particularly the Black Stars.
However, if these series, by any chance possible, attract the next Minister’s attention for him to go through and be briefed appropriately on all the issues raised under the AGENDA FOR GHANA SPORT (2021 – 2024) and he stays long enough for the whole length of the term without suffering a reshuffle, then we would have achieved a change from the norm.
RENAISSANCE PLAN (2019 – 2024)
ONE major project envisaged as part of the campaign to win the bid to host and organize the 13th African Games, Ghana 2023 was to leverage the Games to restructure the organization, development, promotion and marketing of sport in Ghana as the base for launching a renaissance or initiating a transition, revival, renewal and rebirth into modern, contemporary modules, capable of uplifting Ghana into not only an African / continental sporting powerhouse but a competitive global brand.
The Renaissance Plan (2019 – 2024) was also intended as a centerpiece of the launch of the new National Sports Policy with set objectives, goals and targets for manpower, infrastructure, equipment and resources required to deliver the Plan.
As inputs for the Plan, all institutions and national sports federations, affiliated as well as in good standing with the National Sports Authority (NSA) and the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) were written to submit the following:-
- Copy of an existing SWOT Analysis performed by the Federation, indicating Business goals, listing number of existing clubs / teams and individuals with district / regional distribution;
- Annual activities, both local and international, including participations in these major competitions;
- District, regional and national sport programmes, with projected growth targets for clubs / teams, individual performers and volunteers associated with all sports;
- Infrastructure requirements;
- Technical development plan and strategies for implementation, identifying categories of specialists, technical and support services;
- Existing resources, including sponsorships, international grants and supports;
- Resources needed to fulfill mandates, both local and international, including kits and equipment;
- Plans for persons to be supported to vie for membership of committees of selected international federations and organizations such as the ANOCA, IOC and the World / Regional Anti-Doping (WADA);
- Audited financial statements for at least past 3 years plus the last year; and
- Any existing business development and evaluation plan, if any.
Such an exercise, would to a large extent, assist in the overall computation of the contributions of sport to the gross domestic product (GDP). The determination of the annual contributions of sport to the GDP would definitely be a wake-up call for government and public service to begin to re-think the re-positioning of sport in the configuration or re-configuration of Ghana’s economy.
As the lynch-pin in the packaging of the “YOUTH IN ELITE SPORT FOR GHANA” proposals for stimulus support from the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) for a thousand (1,000) sportsmen and women, I am inclined to think if we had had such a computation finalized for all the disciplines, it would have positioned the whole sport industry for a much better stimulus support.
The problem was more to do with the Associations / Federations’ readiness to provide the necessary data required to enable the Ministry work on finalizing the Renaissance Plan for adoption / ratification at the maiden Biannual Sports Congress.
The Biannual Sports Congress is an integral part of the Sports Act, 2016 (Act 934) and it is my thinking that if the National Sports Authority (NSA) fails to organize and host it this year, 2021, after its failure to organize in 2019, then there has to be a regime of sanctions applicable. I also tend to go with the second approach of getting the Parliamentary Select Committee of Parliament on Youth, Culture and Sports to summon the Hon. Minister, when he is confirmed and sworn-in into office and engage him on the matter.
To my mind, a possible third quarter of year, 2021 date in September could be agreed upon by the Parliamentary Select Committee, the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports and the National Sports Authority (NSA) in partnership with all Federations and Associations, including the Ghana Paralympic Sports Federations to host the maiden Biannual Sports Congress for Ghana. It also means that the Renaissance Plan should also then be ready by the second quarter of the year, say June 2021 ending.
REBRANDING SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES SPORT
The existing SHS structure with its attendant age-groupings, who exit into our tertiary institutions, have brought to the fore the compulsive need for the Ministries of Education as well as Youth and Sports to host an extraordinary meeting on collaborating to develop and re-organize or REBRAND SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES SPORT, as the only viable option to secure the future of Ghana Sport.
Years ago, under the late Ohene Djan as the head of the Central Organization of Sports (COS) in charge of the organization and promotion of sports in Ghana with the direct patronage of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, schools and colleges sports, including tertiary, was the launching base for our dominance of sports in Africa, the Commonwealth and at the Olympics.
One key strategy was the formation of the Academicals – for talent identification, grooming, opportunities for participation in all local, national and international platforms to excel, including the award of scholarships and bursaries for talented athletes and footballers.
After the Ohene Djan era, two major personalities who also influenced the Schools and Colleges Sport were late Samuel A. Nelson, former Director, Physical Education, Recreation and Sports Unit of Ghana Education Service (GES) and was also the Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Youth and Sports (1984 – 1991); and the late Katey Caesar, also of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and later the Chairman of the Ghana Football Association. Mr. Nelson was also the author of the book “Exercise And Health”, which he published in 1994.
Both men continued with the traditions of the INTERCO, the Inter-Colleges and Schools competition, which showcased great rivalries between known schools, especially within cities as well as regions for all disciplines of sports, including Cricket, Hockey, Football and Athletics. Thus there were great rivalries between Mfantsipim & Adisadel as well Mfantsipim & GSTS and Mfantsipim against Achimota – such was the intensity of these competitions like Opoku Ware against Prempeh or either against Mfantsipim or Adisadel or Achimota.
The issues devaluing the Schools and Colleges Sports, aside of the depth of indiscipline amongst the students, include the need to restructure this to fit into the new direction of a REBRAND, to attract big sponsors from the district to regional to national competitions all year round. It is also necessary for the changes that new academic limitations would enable the competitions and the requisite incentives that would be required for the exercise.
A MOYS Schools and Colleges Committee was set up to collaborate with the MOE and the GES to establish the parameters for the rebranding by the last Minister, however they could not meet to deliberate on the assignment, much more submit any required Report. To this end, it would be important to re-constitute a new Joint Committee to submit a Report by the end of the first quarter, March 2021. Their task should include mapping out the stock as well as state of sports infrastructure at all JHS and SHS and proffer a strategic plan that will support a remodeling of most of these facilities within a set time by 2024.
ROLE OF MMDAs IN GRASSROOTS SPORT
By the new Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies structure, there is supposed to be a sport desk within their administrative setups with a percentage of their allocations of the DACF (District Assemblies Common Fund), however with a loud disconnect with the regional and district offices of the National Sports Authority.
It is about time this disconnect is resolved to the best interest of Ghanaians.
MY thinking is that the Ministry should engage the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development towards working out the areas for collaboration to reposition SPORT within their development plans to include evolving a win – win synergy for talents identification, development as well as the use of sport for maximizing employment opportunities for their respective youth.
The writer is a Land Economist, SportBusiness Consultant, Bid Architect & Manager
for CAN 2008 Tournament and 13th African Games Ghana 2023