Rome, 1960, the 15th Olympiad had just ended and Ghana, one of Africa's newest republics, was in a state of ecstasy at the silver medal, won by Clement "Ike" Quartey in boxing. President Kwame Nkrumah, himself, feted all the Ghanaian sportsmen who participated at the games.
This was because all of them performed creditably in the disciplines they represented the nation in. To many of his fellow citizens, Ike's feat was to be the beginning of greater things to come in the international sporting arena. Already, the Black Stars, the national football team, was virtually unbeatable in the West African sub-region, our table tennis stars strode the continent and our hockey, volleyball and lawn tennis teams were showing enviable potential. I believed then, that some 56 years later, gold, silver and bronze at any Olympiad, would be a matter of course. Alas, something went awry for Ghana over that period and even bronze has eluded us since Barcelona 1992.
Today, is Monday, August 22, 2016, and the first Olympic Games held in South America, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to be exact, has just ended and Ghana was not on the medal table. In fact no Ghanaian made it past the qualifying stages in all the disciplines we were represented in. My truck is not with those brave and dedicated individuals of our Olympic squad but the parlous and inept state of affairs of sports in Ghana. What hurts is that we know what’s wrong with the sports sector in the country but we seem to be in a fossilised state of inaction and are unwilling to accept that we have regressed into abject mediocrity.
I will not harp on our great successes at the various international sports competitions, from 1960 to the early 1980s, because that has become old hat, but there was a working system in place for sporting excellence despite the absence of quality sports facilities. Our sporting prowess then, hinged on a vibrant schools and colleges sporting calendar, bolstered by strong institutional participation of corporate bodies and the security services.
Today our once eagerly awaited and heralded ‘interco competitions have now diminished into spectral events not noticed by the public and the media. Even football, which is the sole existing cornerstone of Ghana sports, has lost its lustre at the academic level. I shed a tear for our past student heroes alive and dead: Owusu Mensah, Ohene Frimpong, Ohene Karikari, Stan Allotey, JC Amui, George Daniels, RM Kotoku, Eco Addy, Willie Evans, Jones Attuquayefio, Okine Quaye, just to mention a few. I shed a tear because we have somehow failed to build on the selfless and solid foundation they laid. Tokyo 2020 awaits! Dare I dream!
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