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17.11.2008 Feature Article

Part 1: Athletics; why the Ministry's absurd policies are helping to kill the sport

Those of us in the media who have followed the dwindling fortunes of athletics in the past 2 years were totally appalled by the sector Minister of Sports irrational letter labeling the scheduled congress for athletics as illegal. The weaknesses of the arguments put forth in the letter came across as a Ministry woefully out of touch with 21st century sports management practices. The Ministry seems like an institution bent on resisting a more progressive approach to managing sports in favor of an out-of-date style of management. I am increasingly disturbed that the Ministry is confusing its leadership role as mandated under the sports decree of 1976 (SMCD 54) with a dictatorship

approach to governance that blatantly disregards internationally recognized standards. The ministry seems to be developing an increasing desire to be in the middle of basic internal matters of national associations as opposed to carrying out its true mandate. The irony is that the penchant for involvement seems to go against a genuine broad based democratic effort to right what is wrong in athletics. It seems that the only care is

to help entrench a chairman who is a good friend of those in authority, and whatever this costs Ghana and our athletes be damned.

The Sports Act of 1976 cites only 2 main objectives of the Ministry of Sports. They are: 1) to promote and encourage the organization and development of, and mass participation in, amateur and professional sports. 2) to coordinate and integrate the efforts to raise the standards of performance in amateur and professional sports. After reviewing SMCD 54 and the resulting LI 1088 often referred to by the Ministry, it is clear that Hon. O. B. Amoah and his advisors do not understand how the 2 documents relate to each other. LI 1088 was written by the Ministry of Sports on 11th August, 1976 under the powers conferred upon it by SMCD 54, section 42. Thus, the current ministry in consultation with the National Sports Council has always had ability to revise LI 1088 to allow most of the current national associations to conform to the rules and regulations of the international bodies they belong to and also operate under.

Unfortunately, the current Ministry has chosen to hide behind LI 1088 and the current sports bill before parliament as the rational for not allowing the various associations to conform to international standards. It is very telling that this same Ministry, which in quote after quote professes its desire to bring international acclaim to Ghana, staunchly refuses to acknowledge and adapt widely accepted international sports management standards. Rather, it is providing the tax payers of Ghana with an outdated mode of governance which is causing financial loss to the state as the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century.

I have objectively tried to see if there are any beneficial aspects to the Ministry's position on the cancellation of the athletics congress. However, I fail to see how its current position is meant to move Ghana sports forward. From numerous media sources, I have selected a few headlines and quotes from media articles over the past few years to put the current situation into context.

April 2008 – Headline: “Ghana's Sports is fast traveling on a dead roll”.

In an address to the participants at a three-day national sports strategic plan workshop, Miss Elizabeth Ohene, the then Minister of State in charge of Education, Science and Sports is quoted as saying; "There is something wrong with our associations and sports in general”. "So often, we deceive ourselves that all is well because the Black Stars may be doing well, but the truth is we are going nowhere and are not as special as we think sometimes”. She also said within the same speech that “"It is important that we learn from those who have made it and find ways of sustaining the momentum that will be built."

April 2008 – Headline: Sports Administrators Fume.

The Regional Sports Development Officers Association of the National Sports Council has observed with deep concern the spate of lack of cooperation from the chairmen of some Sporting Associations towards the organisation, promotion and development of sports in the country. We have also observed that there are overt and coveted maneuvers by the Chairman of the Ghana Athletic Association to confuse foreign based athletes on policies of the National Sports Council. The current perceived impasse between the National Sports Council and the Chairman of the Ghana Athletics Association on the mode of selection of athletes for camping for the Olympic Games is an issue in point. The power to call for congress as at now, is not the prerogative of the Chairman of the Association. The current Chairman of the Athletic Association was nominated by the National Sports Council and approved by the Sector Ministry and so his call for congress is out of place.

April 2008 – Headline: “SWAG unhappy with NSC/MOESS rift”.

The SWAG said in a statement that "Such a tension was regrettably developing into a power play, with its lack of co-operation and an unnecessary media war. As the two bodies mandated by law to develop and promote sports in the country, the Ministry and the Council have a huge responsibility and should be preoccupied with co-operating and engaging other key stakeholders towards executing their constitutional mandate.

May 2008 – Headline: Beijing Olympics will be a success:

Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Osei Bonsu Amoah has said that Ghana is convinced the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be a success.

August 2008 – Headline: Beijing08: 9 +13 +1 = 0

For a country with a sports minister (most countries don't) this is a real disappointment" - said a sports analyst. Our performance at the Beijing Olympics was "reasonable. - Govt Official

August 2008 – Headline: Beijing08: Worst Ever Olympics for Ghana

Minority Caucus in Parliament has noted that Ghana's abysmal performance at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games can be attributed to mis-management of sports, lack of cohesive planning and vis ion by the sporting authorities.” "it is about time Ghanaians stop boasting that we are the leaders in the sub-region and face the realities since it is obvious that our sporting prowess and talent are on the downward trend and progressive measures needs to be taken to rectify the situation".

August 2008 – Headline: Ghana's Olympic Games display an awakening call:

“Ghana's contingent to the just ended Beijing 2008 Olympic Games returned without even a "wooden medal" in a manner that raises questions about the nation's ambitions towards making an impact at such global events.” “Have those at the helm become negligent because we have failed as a country to hold them accountable and accepted horrible results for so long?”

October 2008 – Headline: Athletics Stakeholders r oot for congress

The one-day forum, an initiative of some foreign-based athletes including Dr. Andrew Owusu and Professor Francis Dodoo and attended by officials of the executive council of the Ghana Athletics Association, Ghana Olympic Committee, National Sports Council, security services, athletics coaches, marketing consultants, sports medicine personnel, administrators, past and present national athletes, and past chairmen of GAA brainstormed on issues that they deemed to have led to the sudden decline of the once lively sport”. “To make progress, will require all hands on deck, a collaborative approach and participation by all, not for personal gain, but of the core belief that Ghana Athletics can do better”. “Mr Adjin Tettey, a former Chairman of GAA also supported the call and assured of his unflinching support towards the revival of athletics in the country. "We will fight till the end, when it even means going to the President to bring the sport back to its feet," he added.

November 2008 – Headline: GAA Congress Can't Take Place — Ministry. A proposed congress scheduled to take place today to elect officers for the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) has been indefinitely cancelled following the refusal of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MoESS) to endorse it”. “In a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Sports Council (NSC), the Deputy Minister in charge of Sports, O.B. Amoah indicated that under the proposed Sports Act which was now before Cabinet, there is a requirement that any national governing or representative body to be a properly constituted corporate body with a constitution and that body must be national in character.”

“The letter further drew the NSC's attention to the fact that under the L.I 1088 passed in 1976, it was still the Ministry that appoints Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the various National Sports Assoc iations and until the law was legally changed, the current arrangement still stands.”

We all desire to see positive changes in the way things are done, but we are bound by the L.I that governs the running of sports associations in the country.

So for now, we will only have to go by the rule and pray that the proposed Sports Act will be passed into a Bill quickly,” Mr Osei Agyeman stressed.

Position of IAAF on Appointment of Officials

June 2005 – Headline: IAAF insists on reforms at Ghana Athletics Association: “Mr Lamine Diack, President of the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) on Friday confirmed the GNA Sports Desk Story that called for reforms in the structure of the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA). The directive was to reduce the influence of government in the selection of officials to run the association.

Mr Diack currently in Accra to attend the 11th General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) told the officials duly elected and not imposed. The GNA last week broke the story that the IAAF had directed the GAA to streamline its structure to conform with that of the international body which abhors any form of governmental influence in selecting officials to run the associations.

The Senegalese said the GAA risk facing sanctions, which includes the withholding of their annual grants and suspension from the Association. "We have rules and regulations and expect members to abide by them. Who so ever fails to respect them is out, but I don't expect Ghana to follow that path," he said.

Source: Kwabena Agyekum (2008 Media Ghana)

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General 66, © 2008

The author has 2 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: General

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