Ten years ago, the Achimota Golf Club and the IBB Golf Club of Abuja started a reciprocal relationship under which they play an inter- club golf tournament to commemorate the independence anniversary of their respective countries - Ghana and Nigeria. The tournament has over the years grown from an inter-club event into an international tournament between the two countries. The tenth edition was held at the Achimota Golf Club on the 10th and 11th of March, 2012 to commemorate 55 years of Ghana's independence. The Ghana team, which is traditionally referred to as the “Achimota Team” because of its historical antecedents, was made up of crack golfers from the Achimota Golf Club, the Royal Golf Club in Kumasi, the Celebrity Golf Club and Tema Country Golf Club among others.
The first day's scores gave the Achimota Team a slim lead of 15 ½ points to the IBB Team's 13 ½ points; the closest margin in the past ten years. However, the host team lifted their game the next day to produce an awesome second round score of 41 points against Nigeria's 19 points. This brought the final scores to 56 ½ for Ghana leaving Nigeria at a distant 32 ½. Ghana's emphatic win received positive reviews from many including Nigerian Captain, Dr. Peter Deshi. “We congratulate your efforts, but frankly we lost because our ten top golfers couldn't make it here.” He explained
Despite pulling off a remarkable tournament amidst high-end performances from his team members, Captain of the Achimota Golf Club, Rene Gameli-Kwame seemed to have some more hurdle to scale; a deepened resolve to bring back the stunning trophy when the two clubs meet in Abuja come October. None of the teams have so far been able to win the trophy in two successive years and Renee Kwame Gameli wants his team to break this cycle during the forthcoming reciprocal tournament in Abuja in October. “Yesterday was a tight game, it was very close to call…but after speaking to my team, I told them that we will deliver…Ghana will be winning, we will be victorious. I am glad we delivered in such a grand fashion.” Rene Gameli-Kwame continued, “We don't want any excuses in October so I am fore-warning the IBB Captain to make sure his top ten golfers stay put in Abuja to supervise their first two defeats in a row”.
The tournament was sponsored by Zenith Bank, a bank which has created great synergy from the blend of Nigerian aggression with Ghanaian tact to lead the banking revolution in Ghana. It is the fourth consecutive year that the bank has sponsored the tournament. For the bank, it is an opportunity to demonstrate what a force they have become when they took advantage of the presence of a vibrant section of the cream of the banking community from the two countries to introduce its recently launched Z-WEB Acquiring, verified by visa; an online trading product to enhance online transactions on an easy-to-use and secured platform. Explaining the features of the product, the Representative of Zenith Bank Mr. Alex Sackey described it as a most customer- friendly product with superior security features to most of the technology driven products offered by the competition.
The captain of the Achimota Golf Club thanked Zenith for their support and assured the bank that golf will continue to provide a viable platform for them to expand and deepen the reach of their products and services.
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) International Golf Clubis arguably the home of golf in the sub region. The Nigerian Captain's seemingly unceasing touting of his club, as the largest golf course in Africa, as well as the finest and most prestigious golf course in Nigeria was perhaps a subtle signal to Achimota that it is never easy to win against big-time fields. Even more daunting is playing against a club, which has strong financial supports from its Federal State, a situation that is sadly nonexistent in the Ghanaian setting.
This revelation clearly puts the Ghanaian Captain in an edgy but assuring position especially when the annual matchplay is established to commemorate the independence celebrations of the two countries, which evolve on values and identity. Heexplained,“AGC have always viewed this event as a nation's event. This year is a true testimony to that; we had golfers from all over the country at Achimota to participate in the tournament. The outstanding cultural display, the raising and lowering of national flags gives credence to my point. However, to enable Ghana send a strong team for the return leg in Abuja come 1st October to fly high the flag of Ghana, we need the support of government institutions especially the Tourism and Sports Ministries and corporate Ghana to keep the Ghana – Nigeria fraternity alive. No competitive sport can promote fraternity between the two countries as Golf. It is a tournament in which participation is valued more by the participants than the results.
The Achimota Golf Club is poised for bigger challenges and the extensive enhancement of its facilities, according to the Club's Captain is to help attract certain level of sponsorship. “Golf is a game for everybody; exciting things are beginning to happen. I therefore encourage everyone to join the fraternity, because the bigger the fraternity, the better the game.”
Story by Collins Oppong