The Ghana Hockey Association (GHA) and the Greater Accra Hockey Association at the weekend, honoured the late president John Evans Atta Mills with a hockey tournament.
Held at the Theodosiah Okoh Hockey Stadium (TOHS), the tournament brought hockey lovers, friends and family of the late professor to enjoy a thrilling game of hockey to commemorate the 10-year anniversary.
Participating in the games were the men and women’s team of the Ghana Prisons Service, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Fire Service and the University of Ghana, Multi Stix Hockey Club, Knights and Sapholda.
The tournament was grouped into four categories namely Men, Women, Masters and a Ceremonial match.
The GAF took home two trophies after emerging victorious in both the Men’s and Women’s Category. The Men’s team of the GAF left fans on the edge of their seat when Private Class III Sylvester Aprontifrom through a penalty corner, fired three successive shots forcing two saves from the goalkeeper of Ghana Police Men (GPM) and finally converting the third.
The GPM gave the GAF a good run for their money with constant pressing which left one of the GPM players injured. Luck, seemed to be on the side of the GPM when they received more than five penalty corners but they failed to convert them.
However, the GAF women in their match against the Ghana Prisons Women ended in a tie. The match proceeded to penalties and the GAF women beat the GPW on penalties with 3-0.
In the masters’ category, the final match between the Multi Stix Club and Sapholda ended in a tie. Sapholda, then beat Multi Stix Club on penalties to emerge winners.
There was a ceremonial match between the J.E.A. Mills XI and the Achimota Senior High School team (ASHT) despite its drama and cheers from the supporters ended in a one all tie.
The final match between the J.E.A. Mills XI and the K.N.O XI ended in a goalless draw. The J.E.A. Mills XI emerged victorious after beating K.N.O XI on penalties.
Speaking to the media after the tournament, the son of the late president, Kofi Sam Atta Mills, expressed his satisfaction towards the organisation of the tournament and commended the organisers for a good job.
“This is something we do every year but we stopped because of COVID. However, because of the 10th anniversary, we knew we had to bring it back and continue it,” he said.
He added that hockey had come a long way considering the state-of-the-art facility built to sustain the game; however there was a need for more Ghanaians to pay attention to the sport.
Former Army Officer and Captain of the Ghana 1974 hockey team that won the African Championships, Captain Andy Sam, noted that the late president’s contribution to the team could not go unnoticed and needed to be rehashed.
According to him, some of the contribution was the construction of the water-based stadium which is now recognised by international bodies.
He proposed that the hockey stadium should be named after the late president to honour his legacy.
The late president, he said, was well known in the hockey fraternity even though he became the president of Ghana, he continued to show up for hockey related activities at the stadium until his demise.
The president of the GHA and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Gas Company, Dr Benjamin Asante, said that to ensure that hockey was loved by all Ghanaians, the GHA would develop the playing body that included the players and coaches.
It would also develop the playing facilities and equipment’s like the “hockey sticks, goal keeper apparels and defensive guards.”
“All those countries that have developed hockey to a level we envy have numerous playing surfaces. Currently, we are looking at establishing Astroturf pitches at the THOS, University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology,” he explained.
He added that there were plans by the association to take the development of the sport to other regions too.
BY JESSEL LARTEY THERSON-COFIE