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Sports News
Ghana Athletics In Peril 7/20/2008

Athletes scrambling for survivor

Just a few weeks to the Olympics, one of Ghana’s only hopefuls, the women’s 4*100 relay team is out of the top 16th in the world and hence the Olympics. They are currently ranked 20th. Two weeks ago, they were in the top 16th and were primed to compete at the games; however, with poor preparation coupled with lies and miss leading information from GAA and officials from Ghana, they were not able to travel to their last meet to solidify their position.

GAA had invited the women’s relay team to a so called camp in Cologne, Germany but had failed to put things in place to facilitate their training. The ladies had been in Holland for about a month and since they had no means of transportation to meets, they missed all the various meets that would have guaranteed their position in the relay event.

The men’s team were not even invited until last week, when in a frantic effort Eric Nkansah(with authority form GAA chairman) was able to put four athletes together to compete in Madrid, Spain. They ran 39.66 and subsequently ran 39.17 in Greece two days after, moving them from a no ranking to top 18 in the world this year. All these efforts were put forward by the athletes in terms of traveling and accommodation. The athletes have bored all these expenses since being in a so called camp since June.

The secretary general recently visited the team in Cologne, Germany and expressed absolutely no support for the men’s team, saying that, GAA did not budget any money for the men’s team. The women’s team which was the main reason for his visit, ended with a lot of problems and false promises. He had flown from Ghana with only $8,000 to cover expenses that were in the range of $20,000, hence most of the expenses were not paid for not alone pay the teams camping allowances. As a result the team is force to live in a cramp hotel sleeping two people per bed and sometimes have to pay for their own accommodation. Food, physiotherapy and medical facilities are non existence to the athletes. There hasn’t been any single official from GAA in Cologne to supervise the athletes training and progress.

There has been so many frantic calls and email messages to the GAA chairman to complain about the plight of the teams but to no avail. He has resort to lying and false promises about solving the issues. His attitude towards the athletes has been one of disrespect and disregards to their performance and wellbeing. Many of his calls to the teams agent(s) has brought about confusion among the athletes thus dumping their morale. The concern at the moment among the athletes is that who is going to pay for all their expenses. A lot of them had quit their jobs, ran up their credit cards to maximum just to receive nothing in return. Others have left their family behind and haven’t been able to support them with the necessary bills at home. The situation looks pretty woeful and discouraging. Many of these fine athletes have contemplating not competing for the country again or retire prematurely.

This has been the hall mark of GAA in the last four years. An association that has massacre the sports and its athletes through, poor preparation, lies and discouragement. It hasn’t been able to promote the sports at the local level, the core of any sports development program. For instance there has only been one championship in Ghana, not a single junior athlete representative at the just ended world junior championships and the local athletes in camp have not been able to secure visa to travel to Europe to compete to enable them qualify for the Olympics. Yet under all these precarious situations many Ghanaian athletes are willing to scarifies their time and energy with the hope of some day representing the country; a bold hope that needs the support of a better association and a leader who does what he says.

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