18.07.2004 Sports News

Tough Start For Ghanaian Cyclists

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The national cycling team began its quest for laurels at the first stage of this year's La Route de la L'est in the Cote d'Ivoire last Friday under very strenous conditions.

The team left Accra on Thursday, a day before the commencement of the tour, by road without enough money to purchase spare parts for their bicycles.

An attempt to get some of the vital bicycle parts on credit by officials of the Ghana Cycling Association (GCA) to forestall any unforeseen difficulties was unsuccessful.

Though the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports had assured the association of its maximum financial support to enable Ghana to make an impressive outing at the July 16-26 tournament, release of the money was delayed by procedural bottlenecks.

Officials of the Ministry of Finance had told the GCA that the National Sports Council had exhausted its budget through the hosting of this year's National Sports Festival in Kumasi recently.

After persistent appeals, a budget was approved for the trip, but its lateness compelled Mr Francis Kpesenu, the General Secretary of the GCA, to depart behind schedule and join the team in Abudjah with the necessary funds to ease the stay of the team and oil their machinery for a good competition.

The confidence of the boys has risen as the secretary announced on arrival that Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, would be in the Ivorian capital to witness the closing stages of the tournament which also includes Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Morocco, France, Belgium and hosts Cote d'Ivoire.

In spite of the initial difficulties, the Ghanaians led by skipper Joseph Annan were very impressive at the first stage of the tour although they were unable to win it as most of them finished in respectable spots.

Skipper Annan called for an end to the (centre-periphery) relationship that existed between football and other lesser-known sports.

He urged the authorities to give equal attention and financial support to all sporting disciplines because most of such sports were medal-winning events which had the potential of raising Ghana's profile in international sports.

The captain reckoned that football was the nation's number one sport but added, “If at least half of what is given to football development could be given to the lesser-known sports, they could achieve more for Ghana by way of laurels.”

Eric Djanmah, Richard Mawuko, Ayitey Akoto, Emmanuel Wayo, Prosper Agbo and skipper Annan constitute the Ghanaian team in this competition, which is the biggest cycling event in West Africa.

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