THERE is no doubt our country Ghana abounds with great boxing talents and has produced world class boxers over the years at all levels of major international competitions.
As a sports enthusiast, I have made the dreams of many come true; helping top Ghanaian athletes, including Ike Quartey and Joshua Clottey, among others, to achieve their potential, as well as inspiring young athletes of tomorrow like Isaac Dogboe, Joshua Buatsi (a bronze medalist for United Kingdom at the Rio Olympics), and Norris Akwei Thompson whom at my own expense, scouted and sponsored from the United Kingdom to join the Black Bombers for the Casablanca African Olympic Qualifying Event -thence to the Rio Olympics during my tenure as President of Ghana Boxing Federation.
In spite of these remarkable achievements, the development of the sport in the country is bedeviled with low patronage, lack of funding and other resources; with only few woefully under-resourced privately run boxing clubs in Bukom where corporate support for boxing does not exist.
Many Ghanaians may not be enthused about how Ghana boxing is faring today, and for some of us who have been long associated with the sport, looking at the administrative and technical aspects of the sport presently, one can also say that the future of the sport in the coming year looks so bleak.
Why do I say so; as an ardent supporter of sports development, seeking to revive the sport; and for effective utilisation of the Bukom Boxing Arena, in April, 2017, I donated two trophies to the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the names of former President H.E. Jerry Rawlings and His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, both strong boxing followers, to be competed for annually at both amateur and professional levels.
My proposed project is a long-term strategic plan to ensure every boxer who turns professional goes through the amateur boxing league to have all the fundamentals right; keep them busy and well equipped with the necessary experience and the needed exposure before proceeding to the paid ranks.
It is very regretful that as of the time of writing this note, the Ministry has not shown any courtesy to even acknowledge receipt of the trophies, in spite of several requests made for follow up discussions on my proposal. I have been informed that the trophies are still shelved as souvenirs in the Minister’s office.
I could have let sleeping dogs lie but for my love of the sport and persistent calls from some loyal enthusiasts of the sport; and concerns raised by both boxers and officials of the Ghana Boxing Federation; it becomes necessary for me to add my voice.
Reports reaching me indicate that the sports authorities have not shown any sign of offering attention or consideration to the national boxing team which was scheduled to go to Cape Verde for the Africa Zone 2 qualifiers to the Olympic Games and All African Games in Morocco.
It was also confided that the team have been training over the period and have not been camped as they have organised non-residential camping, whereby the boxers move from their homes to training at the Accra Sports Stadium, which is very risky and not ideal.
Some of the boxers complained as such “We are suffering in training…; no motivation; no inspiration..; no direction..; no sponsors…. Yet we have the best boxers on the continent of Africa. Ghana Government, Ministry of Youth and Sports, please help the Black Bombers as they prepare for the African Games and Olympic Qualification… Bukom Fist of Fury Boxing League is at a standstill due to NO FINANCIAL SUPPORT…. GOD SAVE GHANA BOXING.”
Meanwhile, it is known that boxing is the sport that has been giving the nation medals at international championship. A clear example is at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where boxing gave Ghana the only single medal which was won by Jessie Lartey, son of the assistant coach who was even left out of the squad to Australia.
There is considerable evidence of sport’s role in delivering a wide variety of benefits to communities and individuals, including economic growth. Sport can help increase economic prosperity, provide employment opportunities and contribute towards raising aspirations and increasing skill levels.
Today, sport emerges as an important component of socio-economic development of a country. The active participation in sports improves community health and productivity, reduces medical expenses, imbibes discipline in character, generates great leaders, and enhances social cohesion.
My experience is that investment into sport in Ghana is much less than in other countries, as sport development is usually not a top priority in our national budget or in our education system.
I have also observed that a ‘vicious cycle’ is emerging as a result of the underdevelopment of our sport, in which our lower investment in sport decreases the potential for athletes to build their talent. This also means that there are fewer prospects for our athletes to continue their sport training or pursue professional sport careers.
In turn, the lack of talent-building opportunities leads to less return on the little investment put into local talent, further debilitating local sport development structures and sport career pathways for our young talented athletes.
The question now is are the current leaders taking this observable fact into account in their policy formulations and planning activities for the nation’s future of sports development, or are we going to keep spending more of our meagre resources on football whilst we continue to ignore other disciplines, when football continues to fail us; especially coming in the wake of the Egypt debacle and abysmal performance of the national senior football team.
I view the Honourable Sports Minister’s conduct of not acknowledging receipt of the trophies until today, nor even consulting me on arrangements for the proposed tournaments, as total disrespect and lacking etiquette.
In view of the above, without any prejudice, I request the Honourable Minister to explain to me what the trophies are being kept for. B
Amb. Quarcoo – The writer
The author is Ghana’s Goodwill Sports Ambassador, ex-Black Stars’ Welfare Committee chairman, an astute sports administrator, boxing guru and former president of the Ghana Amateur Boxing Federation