Ghana has once again returned from the International Athletics Championship with nothing to show after months of intense training coupled with the huge financial injection into preparations.
WHILE the ordinary Ghanaian may not be bothered because Ghana, as we all know, is not a country that is so much obsessed with track and field events, we at Today find it very worrying due to its implications in the future.
COUNTRIES like Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and most recently Ivory Coast, who were once upon a time not household names in track and field events have now leapfrogged Ghana, chalking remarkable results in international events.
INDEED, one cannot overlook the successes of a small Caribbean country like Jamaica who are now, undoubtedly, one of the powerhouses in athletics. Until announcing his retirement last Monday, Usain Bolt, together with his Jamaican quartet, have outshined and dominated the tracks for the past decade.
BUT, while we celebrate such monumental feats, Today finds it very indispensable to assess and diagnose the possible causes of the failure of our athletes to achieve any giant stride in major competitions.
INDEED, we find it very disheartening that Ghana’s only gold medal in any major competition came from the young Martha Bissah who had to brave her way through the odds to achieve her dream and Ignatius Gaisah who has since naturalised for The Netherlands due to the inability of the Ghana Athletics Association to meet his demands.
BUT as the saying goes, charity begins at home, and so Today would like to identify the domestic problems that hinder our preparations to realise the desirable results we all crave for.
WE know many will attribute it to the lack of financial support for the athletes but we can say without a shred of doubt that such an assertion, though might be a contributory factor, is not all there is to unearthing, grooming and developing formidable athletes who can compete on the global stage.
SPORTING events that were used to excavate talents in our second cycle institutions have been relegated with much emphasis now on the academics. Inter-schools and colleges competitions that used to be the breeding grounds for national team coaches to select athletes are no more appealing because students have to race between time to meet their academic obligations while they focus on sports.
INFRASTRUCTURE to support the few daring athletes has been left in a state of despair with no sign of rescue from the authorities.
THE deteriorating state of the only multi-purpose sporting facility in Accra (El-Wak Stadium) is a reflection of the state of the nation’s sporting infrastructure which underwent massive reconstruction ahead of CAN 2008 but has since been left at the mercy of the weather without any regular maintenance schedule put in place by the National Sports Authority (NSA).
THE Accra Sports Stadium is a good reflection of the lack of a maintenance culture, as portions of the massive infrastructure have been left to rust, while dangerous cracks have developed in the structure, including the commentary box. No one needs a soothsayer to predict that it is a catastrophe waiting to happen. As for the washrooms, the least said about them, the better.
SIMILARLY, the Sekondi Stadium at Essipong is deteriorating fast, and yet nothing is being done to salvage the situation, in spite of numerous reports and calls by well-meaning Ghanaians.
IT is in the light of the above that we urgently call on the sports ministry to put in place adequate measures that will not only motivate athletes in this country to give off their best but more importantly equip them to be able to compete at the international. When we do this, Today believes, we will start reaping positive results.