13th African Games: Ghana is ready!

13th African Games: Ghana is ready!

• One of the new tennis courts at Borteyman

In less than a week from today, Ghanaian sports fans would witness live the biggest continental sport­ing spectacle – 13th Africa Games kick-off on Friday at the University of Ghana Sports Complex in Accra.

It is expected to be opened with a colourful and outstanding opening ceremo­ny which for the first time would see the facility filled to its brim.

It is historic in the annals of Ghana sports because it will be the first on the soil but it is also historic in the competition’s own history as the edition to have suffered a lot of setbacks.

The buildup and prepa­rations witnessed several glitches ranging from stall­ing of works, the slow pace of work, misunderstanding between the owners of the Games and requiring Ghana government interventions at certain times plus many others.

In the midst of that storm, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) led by its Executive Chairman, Dr Kwaku Ofosu Asare kept as­suring Ghanaians the Games would come on.

Possibly, some of those assurances began to sound like a rhetoric in the ears of pessimists, consider­ing the evidence available and maybe, forced the LOC to look for ‘further and bet­ter particulars’ to convince them.

That may be the rationale behind the LOC’s tactic of associating with every local sporting event in the last days to use the platforms to assure Ghanaians about the readiness to host one of the finest games in the history of the competition.

But Tuesday’s assurance from the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his message to Parliament on the State of the Nation address (SONA) appears to have calmed nerves about the true state of readiness.

Indeed, it is an event ev­ery Ghanaian must be excit­ed about because of the long term gains and impact it will have on sports development and promotion in Ghana.

For the first time in over two decades, Ghana will boast of a world-class athlet­ics oval and open our terri­tory to hosting international championships.

Indoor events would also not be left out as their re­spective federations are set to benefit from the world-class venues constructed for the Games.

The University of Ghana would be a major benefi­ciary with its seemingly

 abandoned sports complex undergoing refurbishment and installation of the needed logistics to make it ready to host international games.

In all, the Games would attract over 7,000 athletes and officials from the mem­ber states and participate in 29 sporting disciplines catego­rised into Olympic qualifiers, non-Olympic qualifiers and demonstration sports.

The Olympic sports qualifi­ers include athletics, badmin­ton, cycling, swimming, table tennis, tennis, triathlon and wrestling.

Categorised under non-Olympic sports are arm-wrestling, beach volley, basketball 3×3, boxing, chess, cricket, football, handball, hockey, judo, karate-do, rugby, taekwondo, volleyball, and weightlifting.

E-sports, mixed martial arts, pickle ball, sambo, scrabble and speech ball will serve as demonstration sports.

Interestingly, what is missing in the preparation of Team Ghana towards the Games is the popular ‘Host and Win’ cliché that often characterises meetings of this nature.

Had it been a football championship, this axiom would have flown everywhere but why it has vanished from the lips of local athletes and officials should clearly send a certain signal to fellow Ghanaian fans to be modest in their expectation.

Just like the Olympic Games, Ghana is not an established force in such events, always identifying disciplines with competitive advantage to seek honours.

That status would not change drastically but an increase in her medal haul would justify the huge expen­diture made on the Games as we look into the future with hope.

 By Andrew Nortey

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