The Minister for Youth and Sports Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak says his major pre-occupation, as Minister will be to leave a lasting legacy for the development of the youth and sports in the country.
In statement issued after being sworn into office on Wednesday, Alhaji Mubarak said Ghana still lacked an effective policy to develop youth and sports and his priority will be to put in place a workable national policy that will be results oriented and easy to implement.
Alhaji Mubarak who is also the MP for Asawase in the Ashanti Region said several blueprints for the development of youth and sports had been prepared but successive governments and ministers had been unable to pursue these policies because they were inhibited by stringent budgetary considerations.
“As Minister I do not intend to limit the development of my sector to funds raised from central government. I will, with the President's consent market vigorously the NDC's vision for the development of the youth and sports sector and by so doing woo potential partners and sponsors.
“The idea is not to commercialise the sector but identify organisations that are ready to invest in infrastructure and education as partners of progress. Clear guidelines will be put in place to ensure that such partnerships are not abused,” Alhaji Mubarak promised.
The Minister for Youth and Sports said while appreciating that football was the biggest sport in the country effort will be made to develop sports like boxing, athletics, swimming, volleyball, handball, basketball, hockey, cricket and a host of other so-called lesser known sports as the way forward for sports development.
“Lack of infrastructure has totally killed off competitive sports at the local level. The poor sports facilities at our educational institutions are an eyesore and serious efforts will be put in place in collaboration with the Education Ministry to improve such facilities.
“Aside improving physical fitness and the mental wellbeing of the individual, sport has become a major international marketing tool. The performances of the Black Stars at the 2006 World Cup and that of the national youth teams at various international tournaments have served as a huge forum for marketing Ghana.
“Boxing and athletics used to also sell Ghana quite effectively but we have allowed the standards to fall to an embarrassing low. The tide has to change and I am committed to ensuring that we take a step back, appreciate our shortcomings and formulate policies in conjunction with sector ministries such as the Ministries of Education, Information, Tourism as well as regional coordinating councils to improve sports and youth development in Ghana.
“The Ministry will under my watch put in place initiatives to boost disabled sports as a major policy of empowering the physically challenged.
“Next year the World Cup is coming to Africa and Ghana will have to be a great ambassador for the continent. The Ministry will work closely with the Ghana Football Association to ensure that Ghana qualifies for the tournament. Aside qualification and adequate preparation, we shall set up a proper marketing structure that will see Ghana's participation as a business venture aimed at wooing potential investors to all sectors of our economy.
“There will be no point in participating in such tournaments if we cannot tap the huge opportunities that such tournaments bring.” Alhaji Mubarak intimated.
The Minister said an integral aspect of the marketing plan will be the establishment of a state-of-the-art internet portal that will encapsulate the new national vision for youth sports and which will be the major communication highway for his ministry and allied organisations.
Touching on the youth sector the Minister said existing policy will be reviewed and that a detailed programme to at last get a definitive National Youth Policy for Ghana is in an advanced stage. He also said that both the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth and the AU Youth Charter are the building blocks to get to the right solution for Ghana to serve the youth in way they deserve.
“The United Nations priority areas of education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency and other identified areas will all factor in the new National Youth Policy.
“Youth empowerment is not just about education for the youth but offering them meaningful employment channels upon completion of their education and allowing greater participation in national decision making.”
President Mills has set the standard by appointing a significant number of young people into Ministerial positions and this is the fillip required to push the youth agenda forcefully, Alhaji Mubarak stated.
The new Sports Minister thanked the President for offering him the opportunity to help Ghana in such a senior capacity. He also thanked his constituents for re-electing him to parliament and promised to work hard to justify the confidence reposed in him.
Alhaji Mubarak, 37, was first elected into Parliament in April 2005 and won re-election last December. He is a development planner and prior to his election to parliament was Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at Adwumapa Buyers Limited, a licensed cocoa-buying firm in Kumasi. He holds an MSC in Development Policy and Planning from the KNUST and a BSC in Agriculture from the same University. He had his secondary education at the Technology Secondary School and Tamale Secondary School respectively.
The Minister hails from Kumbungu in the Northern Region and is married with three children.