THE present trend whereby the nation's top athletes assemble in Europe for training tours ahead on major international competitions could soon be a thing of the past when the country constructs a new tartan track to replace the existing one at the Accra Sports Stadium.
There are strong indications that Ghana would soon boast of modern tartan tracks at the Accra Stadium to boost the development of track and field events.
According to the Principal Accountant of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr James Tigah, plans are afoot to procure tartan tracks this year to replace the existing one, which was laid in 1977 and commissioned the following year during the African Cup of Nations. Not only has the tracks outlived their usefulness but also become granite-hard to the extent of turning out to be a source of ankle and knee injuries to athletes who train on it daily.
In recent times the nation's cream athletes particularity Leonard Myles-Mills and the principal athletics coach Mr S. S. Atuahene alone have voiced out the urgent need for the nation to construct new tracks in view of the deplorable state of Accra and Kumasi running fields. And often when the foreign-based athletes return home on holidays or for preparations ahead of major international meets, they prefer to train on the sandy beaches to avoid risking injuries.
The urgent need for new tracks is not lost on the authorities, with the sector minister Mr Enoch Teye Mensah reiterating on many occasions Ghana’s desire to construct modern tartan tracks. However, lack of adequate resource has always been the main hurdle.
Nevertheless, the ministry is bent on overcoming the ‘no-money syndrome’ this time.
“For the past three years we have included reconstruction of the tartan tracks in our budget but the budgetary allocation makes it impossible to undertake such a project,” Mr Tigah told Graphic Sports in an interview last Wednesday.
"However, this year we are putting premium on replacing the tartan tracks and this will be factored under infrastructural development in our budget for the year". When constructed, modern tartan tracks would cost the nation not less than $1million (about ¢7 billion) and the Ministry hopes that its expected budgetary allocation for the year would be able to cater for the project.
"Last year we spent a lot of money on major international competitions like the Nations Cup, Olympic Games and others, but this year we are determined to implement it and I believe there is goodwill from the government”, he said.
Even though the Kumasi stadium tracks have also outlived their usefulness, they are far better than the one in Accra.