Accra, Sept 29, GNA - Fifteen veteran sports men and women and an administrator, Nkansa Gyane have been inducted into the country's first-ever Hall of Fame in recognition of their outstanding performance and contribution towards their individual achievements in sport. Apart of the inductees, over a hundred others were also given certificates of recognition plus one million cedis each.
Conspicuously missing from the inductees, however, was Mike Ahey, arguably the best male sprinter the nation has ever produced and until this year, his 1962 long jump national record of 8.19 metres has never been broken. It was only smashed last year by Ghana's new sensation, Ignatius Giasah at the Abuja Olympic Games.
The inductees who each took home two million cedis were Rose Hart, Alice Anum, (Athletics), Andy Sam (Hockey, Cricket, Athletics), Clement Ike Quartey, Eddie Blay, Sulley Shitu and Roy Ankrah (Amateur Boxing) and Azumah Nelson Professional Boxing.
The rest are Charles Kumi Gyamfi, Addo Odametey, Rev. Osei Kofi, Kofi Pare, Abedi Pele and Aggrey Fynn, (Football).
Certificates of honour were also given to the 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 Black Stars squads that won the African Cup of Nation trophies plus the 1992 silver Olympic winning soccer team at the Barcelona Games. The government has also opened an account at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to assist deprived old athletes.
It was during the period of the governance of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), under Enoch Teye Mensah's sports administration that kick-started the recognition of the country's old sport men and women a couple of years ago with a paltry 25,000 cedis and a tea kettle.
The gesture tagged as an insult to the recipients, received serious public bashing while athletes questioned whether the nation was worth dying for.
During Wednesday's colourful ceremony, which brought together lots of the famous faces of yesteryears, including Ibrahim Sunday and Awuley Quaye Senior plus representatives of the deceased of sports personalities, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu ceased the opportunity to assure the people that "government will not forget the role sports played in our national and international relations".
He assured the gathering that barring any hitch, coming this Friday the long-awaited new Sports Bill will be laid before Parliament for it to replace the SMD 54, which has been in existence since 1974.
A four-man local organising committee headed by Dr Kofi Amoah, which will later be expanded to 11, was also introduced to the public to begin work to get the country ready to host CAN 2008.
The Minister said that nine international construction firms have presented their bids to get the slot to construct two new stadia in Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale plus the rehabilitation of the Accra and Kumasi Sports Stadia towards the competition.
Mr Wiredu said government is envisaging providing basketball and volleyball courts as well as playing fields along the new major roads being constructed with other social facilities to encourage sports development in the towns and villages.
Mr Albert Abgozo, Acting Chief Executive of the National Sports Council expressed regret that "we prefer to forget people when they are alive and remember them when they are dead" saying that this must change.