Hurray! Big Boost For 13th African Games

There was big news last weekend for the upcoming African Games to be hosted by Ghana but the news was understandably dwarfed by the FIFA World Cup going on in Qatar with all those surprise results.

The exciting news is that Parliament has given approval for contractors to finish work on facilities for the big Games.

CONSAR Limited, the Kumasi based contractors who did excellent work on the renovation of Baba Yara

Stadium for Afcon 2008, has been given the green light to finish sports infrastructure and residential facilities for the Games scheduled for August 2023.

Even though Ghana may be running against time, CONSAR has a track record of efficiency and I am confident a good job will be done and on time too to transform the University of Ghana stadium into a modern edifice. I was a board member of the then National Sports Council that inspected work done at Baba Yara Stadium, Aliu Mahama Stadium in Tamale and the Essipong Stadium in preparation for Afcon 2008, so I can vouch for the neat work of CONSAR.

With funds now approved the, Borteyman tennis courts and swimming pools should be completed sooner than later.

I am sure the four selected hostels at Legon would be given the expected facelift and the dining hall complex would be well modified to provide an ideal Games village for the sporting youth of Africa.

It looks like it will be a compact Games Village with easy access to facilities. The Legon highway is quite a busy one but I see a lot of construction work on alternative routes passing through East Legon and Adenta that may reduce heavy traffic. 

Local Organising Committee Boss Dr. Kwaku Ofosu Asare must be really relieved that all is going well. He will definitely be expecting his colleague sports journalists to give him all the support to make the Games a success.

I recall a remark by the late Mr. Class Peter, one-time chairman of Accra Great Olympics FC that “the Press can make or mar”. Indeed, sports generally thrive on publicity and a lot will be expected on the sporting media to make the Games a success. Huge international Sports gatherings like the African Games provide a lot of opportunities for bonding and establishing life-long contacts. This is an opportunity for the many young breed of sports journalists to broaden their sphere in the profession and they must get prepared to look at the positive sides of sports development and give the Games the right exposure needed.

As former SWAG President Ebo Quansah said in his speech at the 2002 SWAG Awards night sports journalists owe it to their profession to be more critical. But that does not mean that we should destroy.

“Our critiques should aid the nation and the various sports associations to build by holding up excellence as a source of inspiration.

We should endeavour to tell both sides of the story. Just as there are two sides of a coin, so it is that every story has its other side. We should try obeying the ethics of the profession and doing little more research than we are doing. We should also endeavour to visit the spot of sporting activities and drama rather than telling the story through a third eye”. That was Ebo Quansah for you.

It’s a good advice and it is hoped all stories in connection with preparations for the African Games will come from the right source.

The African Games is the flagship sporting event of the continent and it has a rich history.

Sports Historians will tell you it is a transformation of the Friendship Games held biannually among French speaking countries of African, which began in 1958.

France successfully used the Friendship Games as an effective instrument for holding together her “colonial empire” in Africa. In 1963, the third Friendship Games were held in Dakar, Senegal. The French colonial empire in passing through a crucible of change and the political exigency in Africa at the time, decided to send special invitation to five African nations outside the “French Empire” namely Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and United Arab Republic, now (Egypt).

Ghana sent a token team of five track and field athletes, and one boxer.

Rose Hart won gold in the women’s 80 metres hurdles; middleweight boxer Joe Darkey also won gold and the men’s sprints relay quartet of B.K. Mends, Mike Ahey, M. F. Okantey and Bukari Bashiru won bronze.

The inclusion of these non-French speaking African nations added more spice to the Games and so at a conference of African, Ministers of Youth and Sports in early 1965 it was agreed the Friendship Games should be replaced by All Africa Games involving the entire continent.

So dear reader you now see the genesis of how France has been producing a lot of top sporting heroes of African descent.

I am hopeful despite all the much trumpeted economic challenges Ghana will put up a gallant show both on and off the pitch to make the 2023 Games a grand occasion.

It may be a good spice if some of the living gold medallists of old would be given special invitation as guests of honour.

I am really looking forward to a fabulous sports festival that will go into the history books as one of the best organised on the continent.

Cheers everybody and keep loving sports.

By Ken Bediako

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