Our eyes welled up reading the pathetic story in this paper last Tuesday about the difficult and excruciating experience which members of the country's amateur boxing team, the Black Bombers, are going through in their training towards the July All Africa Games in Algiers.
Apparently abandoned like orphans by the establishment, the Bombers only look up to their Cuban coach and his Ghanaian assistant in virtually all their endeavours as they have to improvise with every conceivable equipment which will aid their training for the Games, though much will be expected of them from their compatriots.
The story they told the GRAPHIC SPORTS, and what we saw when we visited them in training at the Fire Service Training School in Accra, were summed up in our report thus: “Lack of training equipment and zero motivation.”
Apart from the fact that no place had officially been put at their disposal for training and that they only secured an area around the Five Service Training School through the industry of the assistant coach, and by the kind courtesy of some staff of the school who were once boxers themselves, the training takes place in a dilapidated structure with no roof, doors or windows.
Indeed, what we saw was an eyesore — the boxers carrying out their training instructions on the concrete floor of the building and using suspended old vehicle tyres tied together as punching bags.
Every sports-loving Ghanaian must be worried about the predicament of these would-be All Africa Games boxers and their trainers who lamented about having gone through a similar ordeal in their preparations prior to the Zone 3 eliminators in Abidjan last February. Thankfully, all seven of them managed to qualify.
These are the patriots who, even on empty stomachs, are ready to sacrifice to raise the flag and image of Ghana. And, significantly, their foreign coach is even first to demonstrate commitment to the national cause by ordering the recital of the national anthem and pledge after every session of training.
Certainly, this must be a rare breed of a foreign trainer who even doles part of his meagre allowance to the boxers for food and transportation on a daily basis.
Juxtapose him against other foreign trainers of our sports teams, some of whom are on $30,000 monthly salary, with the luxury of fringe benefits, and the Bombers' trainer comes as a Ghanaian in an expatriate clothing.
He is passionate about turning the team into excellent achievers and this passion seems to know no bounds, despite the difficulties and his frustration about their welfare.
As the Cuban trainer, Roberto Chavez, lamented, “Their welfare is very dear to my heart because without motivation they will be demoralised.”
This must be instructive enough for the powers that be to wake up to their responsibilities and give attention to the other national teams as they give to the football teams.
Of course, the Ghana Amateur Boxing Association, chaired by Solomon Ofei Darko, cannot escape blame in all of this in view of the attempt to seek refuge in the all-too-familiar refrain of government's failure to release funds.