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23.08.2002 Sports News

Athletics: GAAA Still Shooting Blanks!!!

By Ghana Athletes Association
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The article “Athletics body'll brook no interference”, a communiqué from the GAAA, makes it so obvious that the GAAA is back to its old tactic of blaming others for its impotence. In fact, the Chairman of the GAAA goes as far to indicate that, had the GAAA been allowed to keep its original roster of athletes to the Commonwealth Games, Ghana would have fared better. Sorry Mr. Chairman, but the GAAA does not seem to get it. By your comments, you have proved to everyone who has been following events over the past 10 months that the GAAA still does not comprehend the reasons for its failures. Weren't the athletes you wanted to take to the Commonwealth Games the same ones you insistently took to the African Championships? Well, apart from the Commonwealth Games team members who proceeded to the African Championships and won one gold and two silvers, didn't the rest of the very large team you took to Tunisia only manage one bronze medal in the women's 4x100m relay? And is it not true that even that bronze medal came from a team that finished last in the race and who got the medal because all the other teams in the relay except two got disqualified? If this was the performance of your preferred team at the African Championships, are you really serious in your thinking that Ghana would have fared better in the more competitive Commonwealth Games? Where is the logic there? In the same manner, we understand that in Manchester you opined, among other things, that our long jumper could have potentially medaled if you had been allowed to take her to the Commonwealth, even though the bronze medal went for 6.49 meters; in Tunisia, however her best jump, even though she had the strongest wind of the day behind her (4.5 m/s) was only 5.68 meters, putting her in 10th place (but you thought she could medal at the Commonwealth Games). Is wasting Ghana's money the mandate you have given yourself as Chairman? The long jumper in question is a fine athlete and her fellow athletes believe that she has potential. Nevertheless, she is not ready for that level competition. The money spent on tickets would have been better spent on giving better training assistance/environment to ensure that she can be more competitive the next time around? This is a classic example of how officials can damage the reputation of potentially great athletes by trying to push them through as a favor even though he or she is not ready. You sent her there when she was not ready and despite the fact that she gave her best, she failed badly. When she is ready, we the athletes will be the first to advocate for her addition to the team. In the mean time, she needs better coaching and supporting resources. It is amazing that the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ghana Olympic Committee, and the National Sports Council have all publicly acknowledged their respective contributions to the errors that have sunk Ghana athletics so low. In classic fashion, however, the GAAA is the only entity that has failed to admit its responsibility for the mountain of debacles (minus outside interference) and continues to blame everyone else. Rather, they continue to point the finger of blame at everyone but themselves, in the process faulting the bold last minute remedying of the situation that involved overriding the association's inappropriate selection. Here is a chairman, who after a year or so, if not more, in office still hasn't taken the time to write a letter of introduction to the athletes he was appointed to serve. Please spare us the excuse that you inherited the problems. All the other notable officials i.e. Minister of Youth and Sports, Chief Executive of the National Sports Council and the President of the Ghana Olympic Committee inherited organizations with multiple problems too. The question is “what have you done since your appointment to bring our wayward ship back to port? The honorable Minister of Youth and Sports just recently acknowledged the Ministry's mistakes in the article “Minister of Sports's eye opener” and we commend him for the courage it took to admit these and also for stating his intention to rectify the situation. Let us wait for the results. In turn, the Chairman of the Ghana Olympic Committee met with representatives of the Ghana Athletes Association in Manchester and admitted that “(w)e have let you down by staying too long on the sidelines.” He promised that the GOC will from now on take a more proactive stand and went on to agree to some of the requests of the representatives of the Ghana Athletes Association on specific issues pertinent to the athletes. Mr. Baba. Kudos Remembers folks, any leader will tell you that it is not an easy thing to admit that you have failed. Nevertheless, it is the mark of potentially great leaders to accept fault when the organization that they lead makes a blunder and even more challenging, to come up with solutions acceptable to the party that has been wronged. Recently, there have been speculations that the Acting Chief Executive is biased towards the athletes. Let us put an end to this. If anybody believes that Dr. Owusu-Ansah is off the “frying pan”, then that person is grossly mistaken. He will be the first person to tell you that he is under scrutiny from all areas including the Ghana Athletes Association. NONE OF US, FROM THE MINISTER OF YOUTH AND SPORTS TO THE ATHLETES AND TO ALL ATHLETICS LOVING PEOPLE FROM GHANA, CAN REST WHILST THIS CANCER RAGES ON. The Minster has acknowledged this and has promise the necessary reforms. This is our country and our sport, and until we solve our problems, none of us can afford to feel secure. We pray that in constituting reform-oriented coalitions to tackle the various problems of Ghana sports, he will not forget to include the athletes, who can best articulate the problems from their perspective. Mr. GAAA Chairman, both you and Dr. Owusu-Ansah have been in your new positions for roughly the same length of time. Yet, you have not presented the athletes with your vision about how best to solve our problems. In fact, despite all the turmoil that athletics has gone through this year, the GAAA has not initiated any formal communication with the Athletes Association. Do you want to tell us that Dr. Owusu-Ansah and the NSC also prevented you from laying out your vision (i.e. goals and objectives) to the athletes? Listen up to some free advice, Mr. Chairman. You are best advised to look within and STOP trying to blame the GAAA's failures on “interference”. The so-called interference actually attenuated the damage that the shabby original selections that you oversaw would have done. In other words, the “interference mitigated the wasting of national resources. In your recent interview, you stated that "(i)t is the job of the association to choose or select athletes to represent the country in international competitions.” Permit us to ask, Mr. Chairman, but do you have a criteria for selection? If so, do you think you should share these with athletes so that they know what standard they have to attain in order to be selected? Is that too much to ask for? Should it or should it not be the best athletes the nation has that go to represent the country? It is amazing that, today, you claim that the impotency of the GAAA has been due to interference from “above”. We disagree with you. Converse to your thinking, the “interference” is a direct result of GAAA's impotence. You should have learned from the Commonwealth experience and presented a more streamlined team for the Africa Championships. Fielding the sort of team you wanted us to, only gets the whole country criticizing Ghanaian athletics. We need national support and to get this it would be useful for us to ALWAYS present the best team we have. Now, let us explain to you why what you call “interference”, that was a direct result of the work of the Ghana Athletes Association, actually worked to the benefit of the country: Scene 1

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