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16.10.2002 Sports News

Financing Sports in Ghana, a Way Out

By Caesar Abagali, GNA
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In an earlier article dealing with financing sports in the country, it was established that the most critical area that determines sports development is finance. I argued strongly that with the relatively undeveloped nature of the private sector in the economy, the public sector role would continue to be significant in this respect. It is therefore necessary to restate some of the arguments that occasioned this conclusion.

The private sector in Ghana is not in competition with any companies as many of these private sector companies have very little financial stability due to the unstable nature of our economy. There is hardly any motivation to finance sporting activities from the grassroots particularly football since the national league is not competitive and therefore offers no appreciable avenue of advertisements for these companies in order to justify any capital outlay. Government in this sense has put in place no measures to draw in the private sector.

For these and many more other reasons, relying on the private sector as a source of completely financing sports in Ghana would therefore continue to be an elusive idea.

The public sector should therefore continue to remain the biggest source of sports financing in the country for a positive change and for the betterment of the teaming youth whose livelihood might depend on the game.

The following suggestions are offered as a way forward not as absolute solutions but as a way of prompting a debate towards sports financing in Ghana.

Decentralisation of sports in Ghana

A big opportunity has been offered through the decentralisation of government revenue in the District Assemblies common fund. The ministry of Youth and Sports should therefore take advantage of this fact. It should by way of legislation compel every district assembly as well as co-ordinating councils to assist in the laying of a firm foundation at the grassroots - using a portion of the common fund.

This should be done by clear cut objectives and well structured instructions after consultation with all stakeholders both at national and district level and in consultation with regional sports development officers.

Revenue Mobilisation

Youth and sports development constitutes the foundation upon which a nation can grow. Therefore, the revenue mobilisation effort that went to education and the road fund should be utilised for the sports sector as well. A study should be conducted in the scheme of Ghana's revenue mobilisation with a view to establishing youth and sports fund.

Deriving Revenue from Sports

Government as a matter of urgency should conduct a study into how revenue earned by footballers, officials and other individuals can be brought under the tax net. It is a very big source of revenue lost to the state while the ministry groans under heavy financial burden.

Private Sector Role

A body should be commissioned to dialogue with the private sector on ways to increase their participation in sports financing.

Creating a Competitive League as way of mobilising funds

It should be a thing of the past where the ministry and soccer authorities only give medals and trophies at the end of competitions to emerging champions.

It is now clearly known all over the world that a league for instance can only be competitive if it is founded on huge cash incentives. The emerging champions should therefore be given reasonable sums of money, which can be solicited from private companies. Also, training trips can be organised for league champions through bilateral arrangements with foreign countries. This is not to argue that it is only cash rewards that make for competition. Other areas such as educating good referees, impartial FA adjudication can also help.

Fact Finding Committee

Suggestions were made earlier that the Minister of Youth and Sports should commission a special committee devoted solely to the issue of sports financing. This is important because it is only such a body with membership drawn from all sectors and cutting across political lines, which can undertake a detailed analysis of the issue, gather ideas from all stakeholders and make recommendations towards solving the problem.

Uprooting Corruption and Ensuring Efficiency in the use of Scarce Resources

Many props including the Gbadegbe Commission report reveal that sports organisation in Ghana is riddled by massive corruption and underhand dealings which serves as a major barrier to sports development. The ministry must therefore courageously ensure transparency in sports administration and ensure that checks are multiplied to rid the system off corruption. The ministry should as much as possible refrain from interference and rather serve as a watchdog over sporting officials in the use of scarce resources.

Cash transfers should also go directly to the beneficiaries to avoid intermediaries as much as possible.

These suggestions though not enough could help solve matters if they are put to good use by the authorities in charge and not given a blind eye.

It is only by this that sports, particularly soccer in the country would gain its past glory and the once fearsome Black Stars would be re-listed in the high rankings of football in Africa.

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