25.03.2024 Letter

An Open Letter to the President & Minister of Sports: The Aftermath of the 13th African Games

By Divine Nkrumah.
An Open Letter to the President  Minister of Sports: The Aftermath of the 13th African Games
25.03.2024 LISTEN

Dear Mr. President and Minister of Sports,
I extend warm greetings from my humble abode, reflecting on the events leading up to, during, and the potential aftermath of the 13th African Games held in Ghana. Allow me to offer a partial commendation to you and your team for the efforts in organizing the Games. While acknowledging the strides made, I must categorize the overall organizational endeavor as only partially successful. Considering the substantial investment poured into this venture, I believe we could have achieved greater results. Nevertheless, I commend your efforts; half a loaf is better than none.

While it's tempting to dwell on the shortcomings and mismanagement surrounding the Games, I believe it's equally important to recognize the positives. The All African Games brought significant changes, both positive and negative, to our nation. On the positive side, it served as a unifying force transcending religious, political, and ethnic divides. Sports emerged as a binding agent fostering unity across diverse segments of society.

Having visited several Games venues, I witnessed firsthand the palpable excitement among athletes and spectators alike. For many, especially the youth, it was a transformative experience, offering respite from challenges like depression and fostering new friendships and networks.

From an economic perspective, sports should not be viewed solely as a recreational activity but as a tool for poverty alleviation and economic development. The Games provided tangible benefits to sectors such as transportation, tourism, and hospitality. It's crucial that we recognize the significance of sports management and development in driving economic growth.

Now is the time for the government to prioritize sports and its associated industries. Permit me to offer some suggestions based on my observations and experience as a sports enthusiast:

1. We have witnessed significant investments and funding put into building infrastructures for the All African Games, and while they may appear impressive, it is crucial that we do not let these valuable facilities go to waste now that the games have concluded. To ensure maximum utilization and benefit for all, I propose that we establish a national sports development agenda and create an annual Sports Festival. This initiative can begin at regional levels and eventually culminate in a National Sports Festival. These events will not only make effective use of the facilities but also generate revenue through gate fees. Such Sports Festivals will encourage healthy competition and dedication in all regions, as well as facilitate the identification of talented athletes to represent our country internationally.

We are aware that due to rushed timelines, some of the projects may not have been completed to meet international standards. However, I urge you not to abandon them but instead rectify any deficiencies to ensure they are up to standard and fully functional.

2. Sir, it is evident that not all individuals can achieve success solely through academic pursuits or traditional classroom learning. Some of us possess exceptional talents in extracurricular activities such as sports, dancing, and cultural activities. In the past, inter-school, district, zonal, and regional sports festivals provided platforms for students from different schools to compete in various disciplines and receive recognition. However, these events seem to have dwindled in our schools. As I mentioned earlier, sports can also be a means for individuals to escape poverty, as it can serve as a profession. We should support the Ghana Education Service in reviving these sporting events in our schools. Unfortunately, the lack of engagement in sports activities has resulted in most physical education teachers being reassigned as integrated science teachers. We need to encourage our children to participate in sports, and what has happened to the Security Services Sports Association (SESSA) Games as well? Is that also no longer taking place?

3. Another pressing concern for Ghanaians is the maintenance and sustainability of these new facilities. The state has a poor maintenance culture, often leading to neglect and deterioration of assets left in our care. This issue largely stems from how we handle procurement matters. Unfortunately, individuals tend to disregard fixing problems unless there is a direct financial benefit. This mindset needs to change. Mr. President, I implore you to establish mechanisms that ensure proper maintenance of these new facilities. I believe you have the necessary resources and personnel to accomplish this.

4. Lastly, I feel obligated to remind you, based on the sentiments expressed by fellow Ghanaians, that the Ghana Football Association (GFA) is not the only sports federation in our country, and the Black Stars are not the sole national team. It is disappointing that despite the substantial investments made by the state in the GFA and the Black Stars, there is little to show for it. Therefore, I request that you allocate a portion of these investments to support other sports as well. Several federations receive limited funding, making it challenging for them to operate and produce champions. Sports like Table Tennis, Long tennis, Volleyball, Badminton, Hockey, Cycling, swimming, and Weightlifting all require significant funding. This has been an ongoing issue, and it is time for a change. The state should not only bask in the glory of victories achieved by our athletes, but also provide equal investments to help them succeed. When tackling the issue of unemployment in our country, leaders must recognize that the development of sports can create job opportunities for our youth. It should not always revolve around football alone.

In conclusion, it's imperative that we recognize the multifaceted benefits of sports and invest accordingly in its development. With concerted efforts and strategic planning, we can harness the power of sports to drive social cohesion, economic growth, and individual prosperity.

Yours sincerely,
A Sports Enthusiast,
Divine Nkrumah.
Email: [email protected]