Some journalists in Accra had a feel of the expected euphoria and excitement that will characterise the Ghana 2008 football fiesta at a ceremony organised to inform the public on the preparations being made towards the event.
At a joint Meet-the-Press hosted by the Ministries of Education, Science and Sports, Tourism and Diasporan Relations, as well as the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the tournament, Ghanaians were told of a good time during the three-week period of good football and entertainment.
The Minister of State at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, Ms Elizabeth Ohene, the first to speak on behalf of the team from the three institutions, said once again Ghana would be the centre of world attention, months after celebrating its golden jubilee and hosting Heads of State and Government at the historic African Union (AU) Summit.
“We will be hosting the world and inviting everyone to the Ghana 2008 tournament, appropriately dubbed “Sharing Passions at the Centre of the Earth,” she announced.
The minister said the government had done its best in terms of preparation and declared that “it is now up to our coach and Captain Stephen Appiah and his colleagues.
We expect the cup to stay in Ghana; we expect to host and win”. The matches will attract a minimum fee of GH¢10 (¢100,000) for seats behind the goal posts and around; GH¢20 (¢200,000) for the seats in the middle, with the exception of corporate boxes which will attract special rates (GH¢100 (¢1,000,000) for the wings at the VIP section and GH¢200 (¢2,000,000) for the VIP section).
She observed that acknowledging the immense tourist opportunities associated with the hosting of Ghana 2008 and other major sporting events, especially the 2010 South Africa World Cup, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO) had appointed Ghana as a key member of a steering committee to maximise the tourism value of international sports events.
Ms Ohene reiterated that the hosting of the tournament would attract hundreds of thousands of tourists to the country and billions of viewers across the world and stated that Ghanaians should take the opportunity to showcase the country.
She stated that the government had put in place all that was required for a successful tournament and pointed out that “it is up to us, individual Ghanaians, to see ourselves as hosts and seize the opportunities that the tournament provides and make the best out of them”.
Ms Ohene touched on the preparation so made in the area of accommodation, land and air transportation, security and the recruitment of about 2,500 volunteers from both within and other African countries to assist in making the visitors feel at home and also make the tournament exceptional.
For his part, the Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, urged every Ghanaian to play his or her part in promoting tourism during the period.
He said the ministry, in collaboration with the LOC and the private sector, would launch special integral local and international tourism promotion campaigns that would include the creation of a desirable image for Ghana, positioning Ghana in the minds of tourists and fun seeking people as a viable destination and generating excitement and traffic for the football fiesta.
He also touched on the collaboration among the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to keep the environment clean, among other activities.
Showing signs of excitement, Mr Asamoah-Boateng talked about the production of special Ghana 2008 campaign materials, the creation of special Ghanaian villages at the key tournament centres to offer Ghanaian food, music and artefacts and also the organisation of carnivals in the evenings at the four tournament centres for winding down and social interaction.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Mr O.B. Amoah, and the Chief Operations Officer of the LOC, Mr Rex Danquah, answered questions from journalists.
The Ghana 2008 tournament will take place in Ghana between January 20 and February 10, 2008.
Story by Lucy Adoma Yeboah