Leveraging African Games investment for sports business
Massive investment in mordern sporting infrastructure, such as the Acquatic Centre at Borteyman, has placed Ghana in a position to attract major international competitions
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Leveraging African Games investment for sports business

As the curtains fell on Accra 2023 last Saturday evening, amidst a vibrant closing ceremony and jubilant celebrations of Ghana's record-breaking performance in the continental event, attention now turns to the nation's potential to utilise its extensive infrastructure investments. 

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With increasing calls to host more international competitions and position Ghana as a leading sports hub in the sub-region, the post-event buzz signals a new chapter in the country's sporting ambitions.

President Akufo-Addo, in his closing remarks, gave an assurance that the facilities built and renovated for the African Games would be maintained to serve as venues for training future champions and hosting international tournaments.

Even as the sporting and socio-economic impact of the African Games begins to sink in, Ghanaian businessman and sports administrator, Herbert Mensah is proposing that Ghana consider hosting an international rugby tournament, citing the nation's potential to become a prominent destination for international sporting events.

Rugby

Mr Mensah told the media last week that with the new rugby field at the University of Ghana, the country now has the foremost international standard rugby stadium in West Africa and as such must be considered in hosting World Rugby tournaments.

"As President of Rugby Africa, I’m going to my board, I’m also on the council for World Rugby, that Ghana should be considered as a place where we should be staging world competitions if we can keep the maintenance up. We would like to bring World Rugby events, at least two, perhaps three here to Ghana," he said.

Hosting major global rugby competitions in Ghana would need a strong commitment by the government to invest further in world-class infrastructure beyond the field at Legon, as well as partner with the Ghana Rugby League Federation and the Ghana Rugby Football Union to invest in the development of the sport across the country.

Already, the rugby family is growing in Ghana with an active league in Accra, but the sport needs a bigger push with a nationwide grassroots development plan to unleash its huge potential and give it a big leap to attract international attention and the support of the major brands associated with the sport. 

In the last few years, armwrestling has established itself as one of the fastest-growing sporting disciplines with huge potential.

At the just-ended African Games, armwrestling turned out as the hen that laid Ghana's golden eggs, sweeping an impressive eight gold medals and a total of 41 medals.

Under the leadership of Charles Osei-Asibey, President of the Ghana Armwrestling Federation, the sport has another opportunity to elevate itself when Ghana hosts the 45th World Armwrestling Championship, which will open sporting and economic opportunities in the country.

Modern facilities

Investments in modern sporting facilities are pivotal in attracting international competitions and sports tourism.

The rejuvenation of facilities such as the Borteyman Sports Complex, the University of Ghana Stadium, the Rugby Stadium at Legon, the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium, the Achimota Cricket Oval, and the Bukom Boxing Arena positions Ghana as an attractive destination for major sporting events.

Plans to connect these facilities with the proposed University for Sports for Development reflect a strategic move to bolster expertise in managing sporting projects and facilities, sports tourism, among other key skillsets required to build a vibrant sports ecosystem.

This year, golf will be a major driver of sports business and sports tourism in Ghana as the Achimota Golf Club will host the 2024 Golf Legends Tour, an event that brings together renowned golfers to showcase their skills and engage with fans and businesses in Ghana.  

Collaboration

A collaborative effort of the Ghana Investment Promotions Centre, the Ghana Tourism Authority, the Ghana Golf Association and the Professional Golfers Association, the Legends Tour Ghana competition will take place in October and bring together top-notch international golfers with notable achievements such as victories in the Ryder Cup to compete with top Ghanaian golfers.

Beyond sport, the Legends Tour's inaugural stop in Africa will be pivotal in positioning both Ghana and the Achimota Golf Club as an important destination for golf and business.

Golf is known to be a key driver for business and has key lessons for other sporting disciplines in Ghana to leverage their potential and investment in facilities.

Shirley Acquaah-Harrison, the CEO of the Trust Sports Emporium (venue for boxing and other events at the African Games) advocates for more international events in Ghana to maximise the returns on infrastructure investments.

She emphasizes the importance of effective facility management and suggests collaboration with experienced private firms or individuals to ensure sustainable operations.

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“We have world-class facilities here at the Trust Sports Emporium, for example, so we must always look at ways to keep the facilities running profitably so that they don’t run down. 

“We can host major sporting events and we must find ways of bringing these events to Ghana and managing them to bring sporting and economic benefits to the country,” Ms Acquaah-Harrison told the Graphic Business.

Ghana stands poised to harness the benefits of its world-class sporting facilities by hosting profitable international competitions. Beyond the economic gains, such endeavours have the potential to elevate Ghana's global standing as an emerging powerhouse in the world of sports.

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