Never in the history of this country has there been a forum where representatives of the various political parties converge to talk about their plans for sports development as stipulated in their various manifestos ahead of a major election.
So when the initiative was pushed by the team at 3Sports, it was welcomed with open arms and from the feedback across fandom and viewers who made time to catch a glimpse, it was a huge success.
The event, held at the McDan Town Park in Labadi, made serious impact.
Right from the onset, when the policy statements of the parties were spelt out by the representatives, the programme took a new dimension.
All party representatives wanted to make a good account of themselves.
Hon. Alex Agyekum represented the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Fred Agbenyo was for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Progressive People’s Party was represented by Nana Afari Gyamfi while the outgoing National Chairman of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Bernard Monarch, represented his party.
Before it all began, messages were taken from the Youth and Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah, and the Ghana Football Association President, Kurt Okraku.
The minister’s work in this term has been very loud.
Sports centres are springing up across the country because of his leadership and he wasted no time to remind everyone of his work.
“The work speaks for itself. I have always said that the best PR you can think of is an achievement. When you achieve a lot, it speaks for you. I am not going to be here and engage in propaganda over achievements.”
The president of the FA, Kurt Okraku, expressed his excitement over the idea to organize a debate on sports.
“I am glad we have the possibility to listen to the two big political parties talking about sports and zooming in to football areas. I think there is the need for more attention for sports in this country,” he said.
Alex Agyekum, who spoke for the ruling party, highlighted the government’s achievements in sports in the country, citing the youth centres across the country.
He also outlined government’s commitment to youth football as well as other sports.
Agyekum stated that sports depend on the macro-economic stability of the country.
In his words, “once the economy is developed, all other things take advantage of it“.
This received a sharp rebuttal from Fred Agbenyo, the NDC representative, who stated that sports must be taken seriously as it provides revenue to the country in many ways.
Agbenyo mentioned the Cape Coast Stadium, the Bukom Boxing Arena and many other projects undertaken by former president John Mahama as the major achievement during their tenure in office.
Bernard Mornah provided a different dimension to the quiz.
Short, crisp answers delivered with tact and light-hearted statements. Many of the most memorable quotes from the event came from him.
Top of which was that he ran faster than world record holder Usain Bolt in 1989 but didn’t get the support to move it on from there.
Mornah believed strongly in a catch-them-young policy of getting athletes – where sportsmen will be identified early on in basic school and then there can be a sound progression of where they are till they get to the top.
He stated that government’s approach of building infrastructure everywhere is not the way to go as “most of them become white elephants anyway”.
“The major calamity we face as a nation is that we prioritize football as a national sport and every other sport is seen as a village sport. The PNC’s policy for sports is the catch-them-young policy to build young talents. Because we fail to catch them young, we think everything is about football,” he said.
On the PPP front, Nana Afari Gyamfi stated that his party’s focus will go a lot into branding of the athletes and infrastructure.
“We will brand sports to get to international standards so that we can get future Yohan Blakes, Usain Bolts and others. The Sports Fund is a good idea as long as we do not abuse the fund like those in power usually do by using it for other purposes other than sports,” he said.
The moderators, Thierry Nyann and Eva Okyere, gave the opportunity for the debaters to put their points across, make salient additions and improve upon standards.
All in all, it was a good intellectual discourse of ideas. Heated on some parts, but mostly impressing the audience seated there and the thousands who watched from home.