Accra, Aug. 6, GNA - The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has set ambitious targets for the next 50 years to enhance Ghana's sports image on the international scene and to create worth for the nation.
Already, one of the six targets - the hosting of 2008 Africa Nations Cup- has been achieved and likely to bolster the country's chances of hosting the other competitions.
The Sector Minister, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, dropped the hint when the national cycling team, presented eight trophies they won at the just ended 18th edition of the La Route De L'est in the Ivory Coast to the Minister.
Apart from the individual fair play awards, the Ghana team was also adjudged the overall fair play team at the end of the crunch competition, which covered some principal towns including Yamoussoukro.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said among the high profile targets include bidding for the right to host the All African Games in 2015, Commonwealth Games in 2022, the Olympic Games in 2032 and the World Cup in 2052.
He noted, however, that the prospect of the other tournaments being organised in Ghana hinges on the successful hosting of next year's West African Games and the CAN 2008.
A Memorandum from the Minister dated December 18, 2003, copied to Deputy Ministers at the Ministry and made available to the GNA Sports, on Friday spelt out the timetable for the various competitions, with its philosophical underpinnings.
Mr Baah-Wiredu urged the Ghana Cycling Association to have a well-organised structure with offices at the districts, regions and the national level to have a poll of talents for the country.
He said once this was done, it would be very easy to attract sponsorship to host the rest of Africa or at least the Ivorians in a similar competition.
Mr Joe Aggrey, a Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports reckons that cycling has a great future and potential for tourism. He said sports tourism was creating worth for lots of countries adding that if cycling was well organised and promoted it could be the key to reviving the country's economy.
The Deputy Minister called on all stakeholders to encourage the young cyclists and help them rise up to international standards. Ghana could not win any of the stages, the closest they came was in the second stage, when after breaking away from bunch of the peloton, Ayitey Akoto crashed on the finish line with a Togolese who had stepped up his gear in the tough last stretch to the finish line.
But Akoto made amends by winning two fair play trophies in the road races and a third position in the criterion; and he also anchored the team to win the overall fair play award.
His performance was so immaculate that the chief of Boundoukou doled out a personal undisclosed cash prize to the cyclist.
In other landmark performances of the Ghanaians, Richard Mawuko set a cracking pace during the first stage of the competition in the Yamoussoukro- Yamoussoukro race, winning the Best Stranger Award. The best stranger award is given to a visiting competitor, who in spite of his unfamiliarity with the terrain, is able to break away from the peloton, in the early stages and is able to pull the rest along with him.
He also capped his excellent performance with a fair play trophy on the same stage.
One of the country's finest performers, Joseph Annan manage two fair play awards in the road races, which also included the prestigious Overall General Classification by Time award.
Host, Cote D'Voire, Ghana, Togo, and some professionals from Burkina Faso competed in the 855-Km race. Nigeria and Benin, which had indicated their intention to participate, however failed to turn up, citing financial reasons.
Richard Mawuko, Ayitey Akoto, Emmanuel Wayo, Prosper Agbo and skipper Joseph Annan constituted the Ghanaian contingent and were accompanied by four officials.
Mr Baah-Wiredu presented a cheque for 10 million cedis to the cyclists for their effort.