H.E. JONATHAN Richardson, Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, inspired Ghana's contingents for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, when he feted them, at his Cantonment outfit, in Accra.
! During the course of the event, H.E. Richardson took time to elaborate on the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, slated for March 15 to 26, 2006, reports Isaac Franklin.
The High Commissioner's lengthy speech is as follows: Australia is delighted to be hosting this year's CW Games. The Games are an important sporting event as well as an important event in the life of the Commonwealth, a community of nations to which Australia attaches considerable importance.
The Games are in many ways the one thing about the Commonwealth that people in Australia know the Commonwealth best. That is partly because Australians are great sports lovers. The Games are, of course, nowhere near the same scale, as the Olympics. Yet, they are big enough. Indeed, this will be the biggest ever sporting event ever held in Melbourne, which has been host to many major events, over the years.
Among the games are, motor racing, soccer, and cricket matches, with crowds over 100,000, various world championships, and in particular, the 1956 Olympic Games.
The world has changed, to such an extent, in the past 50 years that, with 16 sports, 71 teams, 4500 athletes and over 2500 team and technical officials, the noted Games would actually be bigger than the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The Com! monwealth Games have a special character, which is quite different from the Olympics.
They are known as the Friendly Games, because, while the competition is serious, the Games go beyond sport, bringing together, and uniting the peoples of the 71 countries, and territories, which make up the Commonwealth Families are bound together by their shared values, and the Commonwealth family is no exception.
Together, the members of the Commonwealth work to ensure a respect for good governance, sustainable development, human rights and international peace and security.
They also have a unique web of people to people ties along with institutional and historical links, which are facilitated! by common educational, legal and administrative systems, as well as a common language.
For these reasons, Australia, like Ghana, remains firmly committed to the relevance and importance of the Commonwealth and its Family.
And the Games are a great way of bringing the family together. This is reflected in the motto for the Melbourne Games - “united by the moment”. Alongside the sporting events, Commonwealth Games' cultural festival would celebrate, what the 71 nations have in common, and what makes them unique, through a mix of performing art and exhibitions.
The festival is being held in the cultu! ral venues and public spaces of Melbourne, as well as other cities in Victoria.
It will feature music, dance, circus and theatre along with a range of exhibitions showcasing the modem Commonwealth, including painting, photography, sculpture, craft, film and textiles
Ghana would be well represented at the cultural festival, by music and dance groups as, the Kusun Ensemble and African Showboyz, an exhibition of the famous Ga coffins, and an excellent collection of Kente cloths and Asafo flags. The Games would also provide an opportunity, to help foster the Commonwealth family, among the younger generation.
The Melbourne Commonwealth Games Education Program has been developed ! to help schools use the Games as a platform for learning about the Commonwealth and Australia's role in it, and about athletes from different nations and their way of life.
It would also link teachers, students and school communities in Australia with each other and with schools in the Commonwealth.
In the same spirit, a number of towns and districts across the state of Victoria, have adopted a Commonwealth team, and nation for the Games. Ghana has been adopted by the Shire of Wellington, centred on Sale, on the coast of eastern Victoria.
A Ghanaian guest speaker, Dr Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, a lecturer in Communications and Writing, at Melbourne's Monash University, addressed the ! local Games launch, in Sale, last year, which also included a luncheon, featuring traditional Ghanaian cuisine.
The Wellington Shire Council kicked off its Getting Involved in the Games Programme, by sending out Information Kits, with a letter to schools about the upcoming Games and its adopted second nation Ghana.
This has created a flurry of activities in the schools based around the Games and Ghanaian culture. For example, classes at St. Thomas Primary School in Sale have been learning about Ghana as part of the Games Education program. The class has learnt about traditional Ghanaian clothing, also accessed online sites, to read a diary entry, from a Ghanaian child, and h! as also seen how he spends daily life, and schooling. The Ghanaian musical group, Wala also attended the school, performing many songs from their rich heritage using African drums, flutes and dances. The diverse Commonwealth family has already been united in a physical sense in the lead up to the Games by a unique event - the Queens Baton Relay. The baton, containing a message from HM Queen Elizabeth II, traditionally travels, from London to the host country. Over the last 12 months, for the first time, the baton relay has visiting all 71 members of the Commonwealth, travelling over 180,000 ki1ometres, which makes it the world's longest and most inclusive relay, and it was made possible by the Australian Government. Ghana has already participated in this exciting event by providing a warm welcome to the Queen's Baton Relay when it visited in 2005, en route to Melbourne. I was delighted to participate in activities involving thousands of Ghanaians in this event in Accra, where I had the honour of handing over the baton to the Minister for Education and Sports, at the National Stadium, and in Kyebi, where the Okyenhene presided over and participated in the relay. The Australian Government set aside $12 million US in funding, to ensure that the Queen's Baton Relay reaches every comer of the Commonwealth. This is part of a broader commitment to include all countries in the Commonwealth countries, big or small, rich or poor, in the activities of the Commonwealth
Funding to ensure the participation of developing countries has included $5 million, to assist airfares, for athletes from developing countries, $7 million, to bring the performing artists and exhibitions from across the Commonwealth to the Commonwealth for the Games, and over $2m of technical assistance for officials from developing countries.
The government is also funding a program for elite athletes with a disability for whom there will be an expanded program of four sports and 12 events, which would be fully integrated into the main sports programme.! Australia recognises that, sport can play an important role in achieving broader health and community development objectives.
In this context, the Prime Minister of Australia, Hon. John Howard, announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2005 that Australia would fund a $10 million Sports Outreach programme for Commonwealth developing countries.
This expands upon a programme, which has operated successfully, with our Pacific Island neighbours, for several years.
We hope to work with the Ghanaian government and sporting community, to see how best we might use that program, in Ghana. ! Allow me, in conclusion, to wish the Ghanaian team and official delegation a happy and successful visit to Australia. I am sure you would win many new friends, for yourselves, and for Ghana, and hopefully a good haul of medals. I have no doubt, the people of Melbourne of Australia would ensure that, you receive a warm, Australian welcome. I am also confident that the Melbourne Games would not only be a grand sporting event, but an excellent celebration of the unity and diversity of the Commonwealth.