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Sports Features of Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Source: Graphic Online

‘Call it Ministry of Black Stars Affairs’

It is supposed to be called the Ministry of Youth and Sports because it is the government agency responsible for youth empowerment and sports development.

Depending on the government in power, the ministry has over the years, undergone major restructuring of its functions and activities since Ghana's independence in 1957.

One restructuring took place in 1978 when the ministry was structured for only sports development and administration.

The ministry was then headed by the Commissioner for Sports. In 2005, the Ministry of Sports merged with the Ministry of Education to form the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

A year after the merger, the youth segment of the ministry was separated and joined to the Ministry of Employment and Manpower Planning to create a new ministry - Ministry of Employment, Youth and Manpower Planning.

Sports development in 2006 was managed by the Ministry of Education and Sports.

During the John Atta Mills administration in 2009, the government decided to establish an autonomous ministry in charge of sports. The Ministry of Youth and Sports was thus created.

Why Ministry of Black Stars Affairs

In the last couple of years or more, the focus of the ministry has been largely on the Black Stars mainly and seriously to the neglect of the other sporting disciplines such as boxing, hockey and athletics.

The expenditure on the Black Stars is not known but the amounts mentioned each time tax-free bonuses are paid to the shameless players, particularly the so-called professional players, it simply beats one’s imagination.

The amount is so huge that, it is obvious that there will be almost nothing left in the kitty to take care of the other disciplines.

For instance, if the ministry is to dole out more than US10,000 on the average on each player during a tournament, how much would be left in the ministry’s account to take care of the participants in the other disciplines who also toil in the name of Ghana?

The inability of the ministry to provide funds for the junior national hockey team which recently represented the nation in Germany during a tournament is one of the many examples that prove that the ministry has no time for the other disciplines.

Today, Ignatius Gaisah, once a national icon, has renounced his nationality and become a citizen of the Netherlands because of the same lack of attention for him and many other sports personalities.

The ministry is quick to take the glory when those in the lesser sports win laurels but it is the last to provide funds.

Jobs for the idle

At Bukom, the home of many boxing world champions including the legendary ‘Professor’ Azumah Nelson; D.K. Poision, Joshua Clottey, Ike Kwartey, and has almost been neglected.

Meanwhile there are hundreds of strong talents that could be tapped and trained to represent Ghana during international tournaments.

In hockey, there is now an international standard turf which the young ones interested in that spot could practise on to make Ghana proud. Gone were those days when the inter-school and colleges athletics (Interco) produced world-class athletes for the country.

All these sporting avenues provided some kind of employment opportunity for the large number of youth who were unable to find the classroom a more conducive place to make a living in the past.

Way forward

It is expected that as the unemployment situation is now becoming more alarming than ever before, the ministry will be start concentrating on the lesser sports to attract the mass of unemployed youth, develop their talents and make them more beneficial to society.

The authorities in the ministry need to be mindful of the fact that they have a responsibility to be more prudent in the way they expend the funds allocated to them because Ghana may soon be on the brink of a huge social upheaval, the likes of Tunisia among many others, when the situation becomes unbearable.

If not, then the name of the ministry would have to change to Ministry of Black Stars so that nobody bothers the ministry any longer.

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