Accra Marathon sponsorship: Good omen for Ghana athletics
The First National Bank (FNB) last week Wednesday signed a five-year sponsorship agreement with the organisers of the Accra Marathon, Dansoman Keep Fit Club (DKFC). The sponsorship marked the return of the nation’s most prestigious road race after a seven-year hiatus.
The foremost Accra Marathon had been without a sponsor for seven years with no hope in sight after long-standing headline sponsor, Milo, one of Nestle Ghana Limited brands, parted ways with the marathon.
Thus, it was all joy when the new marriage between FNB and DKFC was consummated to restore this renowned national pastime.
To underline FNB’s commitment, not only did the Chief Executive Officer, Warren Adams, initial the dotted lines for his outfit on that memorable occasion, he also immediately announced November 11 (which is Accra Hearts of Oak’s birthday) as the date for the revival of the much-anticipated 42.2 kilometre race and topped it up with the unveiling of the athletes’ vests to satisfy the curiosity of marathon fans.
It is our wish that the new sponsor will go beyond the initial five-year sponsorship to sustain the massive interest in the Accra Marathon and also keep the dreams of long-distance runners alive.
As part of the repackaging to get more people along, the exciting race has been rechristened “First National Bank Accra Marathon”, while the corporate world has been integrated into the new concept, aside from the men’s and U-15 boys’ categories.
As was the case in the previous editions, the comeback of this annual event is expected to keep runners active all year round as they seek to outdo each other for honours.
More so, it will afford the national selectors an opportunity to pick some lucky athletes to represent the nation in major international competitions.
It goes without saying that the long absence of the Accra Marathon has taken some shine from Ghana athletics as is evident in the country’s failure to feature long-distance runners or athletes in the Olympics and the World Athletics Championships in recent times.
The strategic intervention of FNB is certainly a good omen for Ghana Athletics.
With consistency, it will not be surprising to see the new kid on the block, William Amponsah, and other potential long-distance runners making the nation proud again on the global stage just as the Fred Adongos, Alhaji Alhassans and the Emmanuel Amoos did in the past.
We also believe that the Accra Marathon will serve as a catalyst for the revival of the Security Services Sports Association Games as it unveiled new talents for the various security services.
For starters, Alfred Amegashie, won the maiden Accra Marathon in 1987 as a police officer, so were multiple winners, Adongo and Alhassan, employees of the then Customs, Excise and Preventive Service.
In short, most of the past winners of the Accra Marathon had a romance with the security services, hence the need to support this marathon initiative to produce more talents for the future.
The older generation still relishes the annual Mobil Games which used to gather the nation’s best athletes for national trials at the Accra Stadium prior to major international competitions.
Those were the days of John and Leo Myles-Mills, Emmanuel Tuffour (Koora), Nelson Boateng, Timothy Hesse, Eric Akogyiram, Solomon Amegatcher, Ahmed Ali, Ibrahim Hassan, Aziz Zakari, Diana Yankey, Veronica Barwuah, Martha Edusei, Philomena Mensah, among others.
Most of these athletes hoisted the national flag at the Olympics and the World Championships and left an inedible imprint in the minds of most Ghanaians.
However, the same cannot be said of today.
That is how FNB will also be remembered for years to come for its immense contribution to Ghana sports if it is able to keep its promise and even takes it to the next level with even better packages in the years ahead.
We seize this opportunity to hail FNB for taking such a bold step to rescue the Accra Marathon and rekindle the dreams of many an athlete at a time Ghana athletics is in the doldrums.
Who knows, perhaps the five-kilometre race for students and the 10-kilometre race dedicated to corporate entities could also unearth some great runners for the nation.