A call on security services

A call on security services

• Lawyer Kwame Asuah-Takyi

Recruitment into the security services was a period a lot of athletes – footballers, runners and boxers especially, looked forward to with hope.

These athletes were usually unemployed and rode on their participation in sports to get the attention of selectors into the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) comprising Army, Navy and Airforce; Ghana Police Service (GPS), Ghana Prisons Service (GPS), Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the then Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), now referred to as Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

For these services, the period represents one to strengthen their respective sports teams to show their prowess at the Security Services Sports Association (SESSA) games.

Those were the days sports enthusiasts would abandon a Ghana Premier League game at the sports stadium to watch a handball clash between Police and Prisons or Fire Service with any of the previous two.

Sports was exciting not only at the professional level but even at the amateur level where institutions aimed to be dominant.

That period appear to have gone with the wind. Currently, the SESSA games, which a few referred to as ‘Security Services Olympics’ has been put on hold for how long only God knows.

It has affected sports competition among the services, talent production as well as the few faithful that hopes to get into their preferred services through the power of sports.

In female football, the GIS female team, for instance, was one of the teams that dazzled fans because they had star-studded team comprising top players including onetime Ghana’s finest female midfielder, Florence Okoe.

In handball, Prisons, Police and Fire were able to create a vibrant atmosphere at the Prisons Sports Complex area in Cantonment.

They did same with volleyball and hockey.

Customs had no massive competitor in basketball where the Braves dominated not only in Ghana but the West African sub-region.

The latter parts of SESSA games saw a Prisons interest in boxing. That led to the recruitment of boxers like Musah Rahman Lawson, Jesse and Jerry Lartey, former captain of the Black Bombers Sulemana Tetteh and others.

Prisons suddenly became a force in boxing and overshadowed the Army which had a few professional boxers and were thought to be the real force.

The obvious decline of sports at this level should be a matter of concern for all.

However, one could say a return to that era is in sight if a pledge by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to recruit the five civilians on Team Ghana’s victorious arm-wrestling team at the 13th Africa Games in Accra was to come to pass.

During a call on the Comptroller General Immigration (CGI), ‘Vandal’ Lawyer Kwame Asuah Takyi to present some of the medals won by the team, the Service minced no words about its intention to recruit the five civilians in the visiting party.

Two of the armwrestlers were GIS staff and a third, a Deputy Coach of the gold medal winning Black Princesses, Anita Wiredu Mintah.

That obviously makes it incomplete when the history of Ghana’s armwrestling at the Games is written without the mention of the GIS.

This must be a shining example the various services must emulate because indirectly, it will boost Ghana sports.

This is not a story for armwrestling alone. It cuts across the many sports disciplines/federations that raise teams comprising of talented but unemployed athletes who are unable to focus on their chosen endeavour because of ‘bread and butter’ issues.

Some of these sportsmen and women may never find themselves on protocol lists of the political elites but could stand on international podium to highlight the achievement of the state in sports in big international events.

Like the Immigration boss put it, the Service has enjoyed free branding, free publicity just because its staff excelled in armwrestling. This should be a challenge to all the services and revisit the era where the recruitment of sports personnel was a priority.

 By Andrew Nortey

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