Panellists at the maiden Metro TV-Graphic Sports Forum have called for the establishment of a sustainable source of funding and high performance centres in the country to help accelerate the development of sports in Ghana.
They cited inadequate funding by the state and very low investment by corporate entities as one of the biggest constraints to the growth of sports, hence the need for a lot more focus on financing to help implement development plans by various sporting federations as well as support for athletes to reach their full potential.
Tuesday's programme which was held in the studios of Metro TV in Accra was on the theme, 'State of Ghana Sports: the Challenges and the Future' and it focused on three key sporting disciplines, namely, athletics, boxing and football.
The plenary session, moderated by GFA Executive Council member, Dr Randy Abbey, featured experts from the media, Ghana Football Association’s General Secretary, Mr Prosper Harrison Addo; Ghana Athletics Association CEO, Mr Bawah Fuseini, boxing promoter, Alex Ntiamoah-Boakye; and a former National Sports Council board chairman, Mr Kojo Bonsu; with contribution from a US-based retired national athlete, Prof Andrew Owusu, via Zoom.
The panellists identified the current state of the sporting disciplines and proffered solutions to their major challenges with a view to ensuring a developed sports industry to ensure sustained successes, provide employment and for wealth creation.
There was unanimity that if the funding challenges were not addressed it would impede the growth of sports in the country irrespective of the fine plans put together by the federations and the availability of talents.
Prof Owusu noted that for Ghanaian athletes to win laurels at the highest stage, there was the need for a high performance environment to be created in Ghana with high performance coaches who have the capacity to develop elite athletes.
For Mr Bonsu, if the country aimed to make a headway in sports, it must first identify areas where it had the competitive advantage and work at upgrading the capacity of coaches to develop athletes years ahead of major competitions to guarantee medals, instead of relying on so many disciplines where the country did not have the capacity to compete favourably at the highest level.
He suggested that football authorities should adopt the Senegalese module of development where it was mandatory for premier clubs to own academy teams to be able to unearth to talents at the early stages.
GFA’s capacity building
Mr Addo explained that while it would take a while for Ghana to reach the levels of sophistication seen in the English topflight, the FA was using the Club Licensing Regulations to address the challenges and improve the capacity of clubs and the leagues through raising standards of coaching, development of infrastructure, improve standards of refereeing, and the commencement of an autonomous Premier League in 2023.
The FA chief administrator also talked about financial challenges it faced, explaining that it cost about GHc1.9m to pay referees in the Division One League, including the high cost of duty at the ports to clear national team jerseys, among others.
A sports broadcaster, Mr Karl Tufuoh, who was also a panellist said the Ghana Football Association should operate a more transparent administration as the only way they could attract sponsorship, and noted that football had become a big business, a view shared also by Mr Mawuko Afadzinu, a banker and chairman of the Ghana Table Tennis Association, who stated the need for more openness and transparency in sports administration to win the confidence of the corporate world to invest in sports.