Hearts to face Olympics as Gala returns Feb. 3

BY: Bernard Neequaye
 Kurt Okraku, chairman of the organising committee, joined by Vincent Yu (right), COO of StarTimes Media Group and Richmond Keelson of Groupe Nduom, to unveil the trophy for the gala
Kurt Okraku, chairman of the organising committee, joined by Vincent Yu (right), COO of StarTimes Media Group and Richmond Keelson of Groupe Nduom, to unveil the trophy for the gala

Hearts of Oak will renew their rivalry with neighbours, Great Olympics, when they meet in the opening game of revived gala re-christened the StarTimes GFA Gala at the Nduom Sports Stadium on February 3.

The gala, traditionally organised to usher in the new season, also gives fans of the participating clubs a sneak preview of what is expected of their teams, and the revived competition will be no different, despite it being for the 16 sides specially invited to participate.

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Launching the gala which had gone on a 13-year hiatus, organisers also used the occasion to conduct the draw which came up with some interesting match-ups with the Hearts-Olympics’ game leading the pack.

The draw threw in some exciting pairings for the two-day competition.

In other preliminary matches, Premier League sides Kumasi Asante Kotoko will lock horns with hosts Elmina Sharks; Wa All Stars will engage Division One side, Vision FC, while Medeama play Berekum Chelsea.

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Techiman Eleven Wonders will play New Edubiase, Ebusua Dwarfs with lock horns with Inter Allies, Bechem United against Nea Salamina and Dreams FC will face Samartex.

Addressing the launch in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the gala, Kurt Okraku, announced that the winners of the competition will pocket $5,000, comprising the $2,500 each participating team would receive, $500 for being in the final four and the winners’ prize of $2,000. The sum total for second prize will be $4,000.

He further announced that each match will last for 40 minutes and teams are to register a maximum of 30 players just for the gala.

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Mr Okraku, on behalf of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), thanked StarTimes for helping to revive the competition which had been off the calendar since 2005.

He gave an assurance that his outfit would work tirelessly to ensure the competition is a success and whets the apetite of fans for an exciting season.

"We thank the sponsors for coming to our aid to take charge of a competition which has been out of the GFA's calendar in the last 13 years. We are grateful to them and believe the marriage between us will be successful.

"This is a very important competition of the GFA because it opens the new season for all participants. I know it will live up to its billing which is to expect great football fiesta at Elmina," he said.

Mr Okraku also noted that this year's competition was strictly invitational with 10 Premier League clubs and six Division One sides set to compete for the ultimate trophy.

Vincent Yu, the Chief Operating Officer of StarTimes Media Group, mentioned that his outfit will continue to invest in football in the country and expressed StarTimes’ eagerness to sponsor the gala.

The tournament will be supported by Groupe Ndoum which is providing the venue for the competition and hospitality with Perla Natural Mineral Water.