IN PURSUANCE of strenuous efforts to improve and upgrade the infrastructure facilities at some selected sports stadia in the country, the Government has opened serious negotiations with the Spanish Government for a grant of $8.7 million for the re-construction of the Athletics tracks at the Accra and Kumasi sports stadia and the provision of similar facilities at the National Sports College in Winneba.
The Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr. Joe Aggrey, who disclosed this expressed Government's desire to reposition sports as the embodiment of the spirit of a new Ghana with an eye focused on the attainment of full development in the near future and sustainability in the years beyond.
Mr. Aggrey was speaking at a day's seminar organized by the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) in Accra. It was under the theme "GOC - Preparations towards the Athens games" and was attended by the various stakeholders in the development of sports.
Participants were National Sports Council (NSC), Ghana Education Service (GES), Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Media, among others.
He hinted that parcels of land had been acquired in both Tamale and Sekondi-Takoradi for the construction of stadia in support of Ghana's bid to host the 2008 Africa Cup of Nation's Soccer finals.
The deputy minister said Government acknowledges the significant role sports plays to positively influence young people's lives while changing their social attitudes for the better.
"Government sees sports as an effective tool for poverty alleviation and a vehicle for mobilization and growth. Sports is a fast growing industry that has the propensity for wealth creation and the provision of employment, particularly for the youth," he added.
Mr. Aggrey noted that the trend now was on the Government to create the enabling environment through appropriate legislations, tax policies and other incentive packages to attract the private and public sector to invest in sports, as business ventures.
He emphasized that a major reason for the decline in Ghana's performance in sports was the lack of attention to Physical Education as a subject and sports in general in the basic, second cycle and tertiary institutions.
Accordingly, he applauded the re-introduction of Physical Education as a compulsory subject in all public pre-tertiary education institutions in the country.
In his presentation on the topic "Ghana's preparation towards Athens Olympic games - Expectations from associations to meet national goals," the acting chief executive of the National Sports Council, Mr. Albert Agbozo, stressed the need for the various national associations to decentralize their administrative and technical operations to cover the regions and districts.
He said the national association was expected to have by law its regional and district associations in the communities to ensure proper development of sports from the grassroots.
Mr. Agbozo presaged the sports council's intentions not to give recognition to any association that would fail to adhere to the decentralization policy.
"No association will be administratively recognized unless it adheres to the policy of decentralization of national sports associations in the country.
The adherence to this fundamental policy is vital for total development of sports and the achievement of our set-goals, programmes and activities throughout the country," he advised.
The President of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), Mr. B.T. Baba, called for strong collaborative efforts of the various stakeholders to ensure a total success of the contingent at the Athens games in August.