23.07.2003 Sports News

We're determined to develop lesser-known sports

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Accra, July 23, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Wednesday said Ghana welcomes support to develop the less patronized sports, such as tennis to offer lucrative employment to the youth. He said the nation had talented youth who could be discovered and trained to excel in all sporting disciplines, but it lacked the infrastructure, equipment and resources to do so. Vice President Mahama, therefore, commended the "Recreation Wish List Committee" of the United States, which has clinched a deal with the Ghana Tennis Association to send budding youngsters to the US for training.

It is expected that the youngsters would be groomed within the shortest possible time to qualify for ranking as one of the best 25 top tennis players in the world and possibly be able to win Grand Slams. Speaking to Mrs Cora Masters Barry, Founder of the Committee and Dr Julianne Malveaux, Treasurer, who called on him at the Castle, Osu, the Vice President said other tennis training facilities would be established in addition to the one at Winneba to promote the sport.

The Washington-based Committee, in association with Venus and Serena Wiliams, the world-renowned tennis sisters, has donated 1,800 tennis balls, rackets and other equipment to revolutionalise the sport. The visit is a follow up to one in July, last year, to the country where they promised to donate some equipment to assist young tennis players to develop their potentials and to raise the standard of the game to an appreciable level.

Mrs Barry said the beneficiaries would not only receive training in tennis but would be given a complete formal education so that they could become "all round adults".

The Committee initiated the impending visit of the William Sisters, preceded by that of their mother last year.

Serena and Venus Williams were unable to come to Ghana last year because of their tight schedules, but are billed to make the trip before the end of the year, she said.

Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives, who encouraged the committee and the Williams sisters to visit Ghana during his tenure as Ghana's Ambassador to the US, said the level of the sport would be lifted significantly when some of tennis infrastructure in the US is replicated in Ghana.

Mr Kyerematen said the worth of the visit of the Williams sisters to Ghana should not be quantified in monetary terms, but as a priceless cultural exchange that would inspire the youth to emulate them. He said many other countries competed to woo the stars to visit them in vain, adding that Ghana was lucky.

Alhaji Rashid Bawa, Minister of State at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, said every effort would be given to the sport to rival football, the nation's passion.

Tennis sport officials say the proposed visit of the Williams sisters has already generated a lot interest in the game, recording a significant increase in the number of participants in the last Milo Championship.

More than 150 players train under the auspices of the Ghana Tennis Association.

Two young people are being considered for the maiden US trip in August.

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