The origins of the Ghana Hockey Association

BY: E.O. Attoh
Theodosia Okoh — Good job for hockey

I have read of the purported origins of the Ghana Hockey Association in one Accra daily and feel the records must be straightened for the sake of the current generation and prosperity and also to be fair to those actually involved; at least, one of them is still alive.

In the said article titled “A National Icon”, the writer wrote: “Mrs Theodosia Okoh has earned her name not only as the designer or the national flag but also as a pioneer in the popularisation of hockey in the country. In early post independence Ghana, Mrs Okoh got herself in the popularization of the game by forming the Gold Coast Hockey Association and formed local teams which competed among themselves and teams from other countries......”

I wish to draw attention to records at the Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD), precisely in file number RG 9/1/83, with the following heading: “Minutes of the first meeting of the Accra hockey team representatives held at the British Council House on Thursday, November 9, 1950 at 3 pm.”

In his introductory remarks, the convener of the meeting, Mr Paul I. Hill of the British Council revealed the reason for convening the meeting as “a challenge issued by the Nigerian Hockey Association against the Gold Coast for a match at hockey this year. This challenge was not accepted as no Association existed in the Gold Coast.” This meeting, therefore, marked the formation of the Gold Coast Hockey Association.

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The deliberations at that meeting were carried by the Daily Graphic issue of November 11, 1950 under the heading Gold Coast Hockey Association Formed. This is available at the Graphic Archives. The point here is that the Gold Coast Hockey Association was formed in 1950 (as simple logic suggests from the name) and not after independence.

The minutes indicate that the following persons were present: Mr P.I. Hill ( British Council - convener), Mr W. Heward-Mills (Alpine), Mr S.F. Goodhead (Youngsters), Mr A.W. Blankson-Mills (Accra Youth Centre), Mr A.B. Attafua (Achimota School), Mr Vennoble (School of Pharmacy - Korle Bu), Mr Brown Podee (School of Pharmacy), Captain Manley (Gold Coast District - Teshie), and Mr V.B. Davies (Protem Secretary).

These persons were representatives of the clubs invited. Also in attendance were Mr A.H.R. Joseph (the sports organiser of the Sports Council), Dr E. Evans-Anfom, Mr K. Atiemo and Mr. L.L. Lawson. I believe that any credit for the formation of the Association must be appropriately placed.

As to what happened thereafter, the records show that in June, 1951, Mr A.K.  Konuah (2nd Headmaster of the Accra Academy) was elected to replace Dr Evans-Anfom; the latter had been posted to Dunkwa as medical officer.

Although most of the records are lost, there is evidence in the Daily Graphic, at least that Mr Konuah was still chairman at the end of September 1956, and I have found no evidence that any other person held the position substantively until Mr E.K. Okoh, Cabinet Secretary and husband of Mrs Okoh herself first came in as deputy to Mr. Owusu Afriyie, Minister of Social Welfare, who was elected Chairman in 1961.

Incidentally, Dr Evans-Anfom, who was the founding Chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association in 1950, is still alive.

It may surprise the reader to learn that before independence, the Gold Coast hockey league featured a bigger number of teams that the football first division, and towns and cities like Kibi, Sekondi, Kumasi, Tarkwa, Dunkwa already had vibrant hockey clubs. Thus the initial formation of clubs cannot be credited to political powers or influence or individuals without basis.

Indeed, most of the credit should go to the British Council. Also, individuals like Dr Evans-Anfom and Kofi Atiemo, who the records show, personally founded clubs in Dunkwa and Cape Coast, at least, must be mentioned. And there may be others.

Indeed, some great deeds will always go unnoticed and unrecognised. It is the way of the world, but for those we can find the records, honour must be appropriately placed and in appropriate measure.

Mrs Theodosia Okoh has done a good job for Ghana hockey which must, in itself be celebrated and preserved in the records. She could not have been a chairman otherwise, but, I believe that, while we honour our heroes and heroines, the information we send out must be absolutely factual.