President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s tenure has been marked by an unwavering commitment to developing Ghana’s sports sector. His visionary leadership and dedication to enhancing sports infrastructure, promoting youth development, and supporting athletes, have brought about a transformative change in the nation’s sporting landscape.
There are not many leaders who display such vision, enthusiasm, and an unshakable dedication to create a lasting impression on sports infrastructure development as President Akufo-Addo has done.
The President has demonstrated revolutionary leadership in the development of sports. His relentless efforts to improve the sports industry and foster an atmosphere that supports greatness have brought Ghana’s sports to new heights.
Sports, as we all know, is a multibillion-dollar industry with the ability to contribute significantly to our GDP if properly handled. Africa is gifted with a wide range of talents, but it lags behind in realising the benefits of its large population of sporting potential due to inadequate infrastructure, among others.
Permit me to enumerate some of the unprecedented feats of the Government of President Akufo-Addo in the sports sector.
Financial Support for Women’s Football:
During the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Akufo-Addo’s administration extended its support to female footballers by providing them with monthly stipends through the Youth in Sports Programme under the Youth Employment Agency (YEA). This initiative aimed to mitigate the financial strain faced by these athletes and enable them to continue pursuing their sporting careers. Again, this policy was aimed at encouraging and motivating women football. As stipulated in a publication by Ghanaweb.com dated 2 July, 2020 which was titled “Ghana Women’s Premier League players to receive 500 cedis monthly allowance”, it stated that “the is an initiative to mitigate the economic impacts on the football clubs and players as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic which has seen football activities halted since 15 March 2020.”
Financial Support for Premier League Teams:
Recognizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ghana’s football industry, President Akufo-Addo’s government offered financial support to Premier League teams. This assistance helped the clubs to navigate through the difficult times and sustain their operations, safeguarding the livelihoods of players and staff. As stated in the publication by a press release from the Ministry of Youth and Sports dated on 4th December, 2020, reported “The President of the Republic, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has authorized the Ministry of Youth and Sports to release an amount of nine hundred thousand cedis (GH¬¢900,000) as a first tranche of payment to support the 19 Premier League clubs to offset some of their expenses in this era of COVID-19 pandemic. Each club is to receive an amount of fifty thousand Ghana cedis (GH¬¢ 50,000).”
Sports Development Fund:
The Sports Development Fund will undoubtedly play a vital role in promoting sports at all levels and will indeed position our sports industry to compete with other sectors as a major economic driver. The President in his 2nd State of the Nation Address said, “This year, we will continue the process of passing the Legislative Instruments of the National Youth and Sports Act, pursue the enactment of the draft National Sports College Bill, and create a Sports Fund to improve sports development in the country.” I’m excited to say the bill is currently being reviewed to meet the recommendations of cabinet and will soon be for approval to the next level.
National Sports Policy:
The implementation of the policy is expected to guide the management and development of sports in the country if passed by parliament. As part of the Government’s vision, the Ministry of Youth and Sports on 29th March, 2023 met with selected key stakeholders in the media and corporate agencies for their input in the policy. The policy when finalised will serve as the bedrock for sports in Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo demonstrated his unwavering commitment to uplifting Ghana’s national football team, the Black Stars and positioning them for success in the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and World Cup by organizing a series of fundraising breakfasts to encourage corporate bodies to support the national team. The motive behind this as indicated by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Mustapha Ussif was to reduce the burden of financing the national teams from government and also create room for the funding of other known sports. Even though the entire target was not achieved, the Black Stars eventually made it to the Qatar 2022 World Cup through the strategic deployment of resources throughout the qualifiers and playoffs. The point must also be made that, the funds raised did not only strengthen the team’s foundation but also bolster national pride and unity as Ghanaians rally behind their beloved football heroes in pursuit of glory by joyously contributing to the agenda. The President in his fundraising quest, met and engaged Ralph Mupita, CEO of Africa’s leading communication network, MTN and directly solicited for support for the Black Stars. This meeting birthed the $2m sponsorship deal for the Black Stars. Indeed, this action by the President is worth commendable.
Investment Fund For Youth Teams:
The president and the Hon. minister deserve commendation for their initiative to establish an investment fund in collaboration with Glico Pensions Fund for the junior national teams. This groundbreaking policy, which involves investing a portion of national athletes’ winning bonuses, aims to secure a better future for them after their sporting careers. Hon. Ussif during the launch highlighted the unfortunate reality that many athletes face financial hardships once their peak performance years are over, often becoming burdens on society. Recognizing the need to address this challenge, the minister engaged in discussions with President Akufo-Addo, who advised investing 50% of the U20 team’s winning bonuses towards securing their future. This visionary approach not only ensures the financial well-being of athletes but also encourages young athletes to invest in their own future. The first beneficiaries of this initiative, the Black Satellites team, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Team have received substantial investments of USD 130,000.00 and USD 150,000.00, respectively. This commendable step taken by the President and the Minister sets a positive precedent for safeguarding the futures of Ghana’s national heroes and athletes, providing them with a renewed sense of morale and pride as they serve the country on the international stage.
MOU With Other Countries:
As part of the Government’s vision to build a very strong bilateral relations with other countries for sports development, the Ministry of Youth and Sports recently signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with Namibia and Malta, which is an exciting development for the sports industry. These agreements make it possible for Ghana to use athletic facilities in these nations for free. In addition, the ministry has many more Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) available for signature with countries such as Spain, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Zambia, Iran, and Greece. These agreements demonstrate the government’s commitment to promoting international collaboration in sports. The collaboration activities include the exchange of sports facilities for training and camping, the exchange of technical personnel, research collaborations, capacity building, mutual support for international portfolios, and youth development initiatives.
This commendable initiative spearheaded by the President and the Minister demonstrates their dedication to elevating Ghana’s sports to the global stage and nurturing the talent and potential of the nation’s youth.
Multipurpose Youth Resource Centres:
This President deserves praise for his foresight in creating Multipurpose Youth Resource Centres throughout Ghana. These centres will have a revolutionary impact on youth empowerment and development. The President will certainly create an enabling environment for young people to unlock their potential, discover their talents, and become agents of positive change in their communities by providing state-of-the-art facilities for sports, recreation, skills training, and mentorship. 6 out of the 10 centres are currently on the completing stages of phase 2 (Koforidua, Wa, Axim, Ho, Dorma Ahenkro, Dunkwa-On-Offin. The phase 2 of the remaining 4 (Yendi, Nyinahini, Kaneshie and Navrongo) will soon commence.
Infrastructure for the 13th African Games:
The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the approach to use a hybrid for the hosting and organization of the 13th African Games dubbed the “ACCRA 2023”. The Complex when completed will consist of a 1000 seater competition swimming pool, that is a 10-lane competition swimming pool; an 8-lane warm-up swimming pool; a 1,000 seater multi-purpose sports hall for basketball, badminton, boxing, table tennis and weightlifting; and a 500 seater temporary dome for handball, volleyball, judo, karate and taekwondo. These facilities when completed will not only ensure the successful hosting of the games but also provide long-term benefits for our local sports, especially the other sporting disciplines commonly known as “lesser-known sports”. The facility has been earmarked to be used as the University for Sports Development after the games. This move will undoubtedly ensure the protection and utilization of the magnificent edifices after the games.
Artificial Turf Installations (Astroturfs):
Another notable achievement of President Akufo-Addo’s administration has been the development of over 130 Astroturfs around the country. Strangely, when Akufo-Addo took office, Ghana had only two privately owned Astroturf fields. The installation of these artificial turfs created a suitable atmosphere for young people at the grassroots level to nurture their abilities and encourage them to achieve their goals. Today, several lower-level teams, including women’s football, benefit from this initiative, as the majority of them use these facilities. There are plans to ensure every constituency benefits from the 1 Constituency, 1 Astroturf initiative.
Accra Sports Stadium:
One of the most significant investments has been the renovation of the Accra Sports Stadium, which was in a state of disrepair when Akufo-Addo took office. The facility underwent a series of renovations since 2017. The refurbishment included the replacement of the pitch, modern seating installations, and the upgrade of facilities to meet international standards. Though the renovation processes are still ongoing, the facility is now fit for purpose and suitable to host all international games.
Baba Yara Sports Stadium:
The Baba Yara Sports Stadium just like other facilities has equally received significant attention and investment by President Akufo-Addo. The refurbishment efforts were aimed to enhance the stadium’s infrastructure and create a more conducive environment for sporting activities. These improvements have bolstered the stadium’s status as a key hub for football and other events in the Ashanti Region and Ghana at large. It has revived the love and passion for football in the good people of Ashanti.
Cape Coast Sports Stadium:
The government has on several occasions renovated the Cape Coast Sports Stadium to meet FIFA/CAF requirements and modern safety precautions. This state-of-the-art stadium has not only boosted sports activities in the Central Region but has also provided a venue for hosting national and international events, further enhancing Ghana’s sports tourism potential.
Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium:
The Minister of Youth and Sports recently toured the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium and announced to the media government’s plans to renovate the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium. The venue has in recent times served as the home grounds for Real Tamale United and Tamale City who are both in the Premier League. It also serves as the grounds for hosting school games. An investment in the renovation of this facility will undoubtedly go a long way to improve sports in the northern sector of Ghana.
Essipong Sports Stadium:
Recognizing the importance of renovating existing infrastructure, President Akufo-Addo’s administration undertook the refurbishment of the Essipong Sports Stadium. Phase 1 of the renovation which has to do with the removal of fibre roofings, removal of rusted metals among others has been executed in anticipation of the Phase 2 which will cover a complete renovation of the edifice. The recent criticism of the status of the facility due to the delays in the procurement processes is understandable. But it must be noted that the current administration has over-demonstrated its commitment to developing sports irrespective of the geographical location or political benefit. For Mr. President, sports in Ghana must be developed and positioned to compete on the global stage. The contractor as reported has gone back to the site to commence the Phase 2 of the renovation.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s remarkable efforts and visionary leadership have spearheaded the transformation of Ghana’s sports sector. From the renovation of key sports stadiums to the construction of youth resource centres and the development of sports infrastructure, his administration has laid a solid foundation for the growth of sports in the country. Through financial support for athletes, initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the promotion of grassroots sports, President Akufo-Addo has demonstrated his commitment to nurturing talent and ensuring the well-being of Ghanaian athletes. Ghana’s sports sector stands stronger than ever, thanks to President Akufo-Addo’s enormous efforts and enduring legacy. Despite the criticism, President Akufo-Addo deserves praise for his enormous effort in developing the sports sector.