This week, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Isaac Asiamah, has inaugurated two important groups tasked with very significant responsibilities that could change Ghana sports for the better: the Governing Board of the National Sports Authority (NSA) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 2018 African Women’s Championship to be hosted by Ghana.
Both the formation and the swearing-in of the two groups were long overdue but still welcome news, as the two bodies will, in no small way, give strategic direction to sports.
The clear mandates handed the two bodies are worth focusing on.
First, when the minister appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, and at other public events, he said he would ensure that the NSA focus on sports development, including making the semi-autonomous Ghana Football Association (GFA) come under the umbrella of the authority, as enshrined in the Sports Act passed by Parliament last year.
The 15-member NSA Board has a huge task in ensuring the growth and development of sports by not only setting the policy direction for the authority but also finding creative ways of raising revenue to bridge the huge funding gap in sports.
For a governing body faced with inadequate human resource and poor conditions of service, the board has its work cut out to ensure that the NSA is properly staffed and motivated to deliver its mandate satisfactorily.
More importantly, the Kwadwo Baah Agyemang-led group will have to find creative ways to secure funding for sports development beyond budgetary provision (which is always gobbled up by remuneration, staff compensation and national team activities) by bringing the private sector into the heart of all sports development and promotion.
Beyond the rhetoric, the Graphic Sports would want to see the new NSA Board give clear and workable policy directives with specific performance indicators to enable Ghanaians to see and appreciate its efforts and challenges, too.
The new board has a fine opportunity to bring into fruition the oft-touted policy of public-private-partnerships (PPPs) in the development and management of the country’s sports infrastructure which has been left to deteriorate, with the government being forced to look for funding to renovate them, instead of this infrastructure becoming self-sustaining as business entities.
This is one area where this paper would like to see clear direction from the board.
Second, with the inauguration of the LOC for the Women’s Championship, Ghanaians would want to see the committee work hard and smart to host a world-class tournament, as demanded by the Sports Minister.
Even though the women’s competition may not rank in prestige and following as the men’s game, Ghana has a unique opportunity to raise the bar and set new benchmarks in hosting the eight-team competition, just as it hosted, perhaps, the most exciting African Cup of Nations tournament nine years ago.
Without a doubt, Ghana set new standards for the continent’s flagship tournament during CAN 2008, which saw the entire nation come together to rally behind the national colours and the Black Stars in an outstanding show of nationalism. That feat did not just come about but was the product of very innovative plans carefully crafted and executed by the LOC, backed by strong governmental support and private sector involvement at each stage.
The template for the successful 2008 Nations Cup is available for the LOC to draw lessons from and hopefully the personalities who worked tirelessly to make that tournament a success are still available to tap into as the LOC forms the working sub-committees to get down to work.