We Have Made Modest Gains …Sports Minister  

Isaac Kwame Asiamah

Youth and Sports Minister, Isaac Kwame Asiamah has revealed that his outfit has chalked remarkable successes after 13 months in office.

Notwithstanding the modest gains, he admitted that there is more to be done particularly in the area of infrastructure and amputee sports.

In a Meet-the-press session in Accra yesterday, the Minister pointed out that the construction of youth centres and pitches across the country forms part of plans to take sports close to the people.

He mentioned that according local sports the needed attention; aimed at serving as a job creation avenue, remains the Ministry’s top most priority.

The Minister said “We have to develop sports locally, for about 80%, I have tasked the leadership of the various Federations to make their presence felt; we have also told the heads to consult the Ministry regarding their international programs to ensure that protocol is respected.

“Already, we have begun renovation exercises on sporting facilities like the Accra Stadium, Azumah Nelson Complex and cut sods for the construction of some pitches to secure the future of football.

“Next week, we would continue with the sod cutting for the construction of more pitches across the country, so that there would be no excuses by our youth to fail in sports.”

He said apart from the Azumah Nelson Complex which is estimated to be completed in 16 months, the rest of the pitches have a time limit of nine months to be completed.

According to the Minister, President Akufo-Addo has made a ¢5m provision for the completion of the neglected University of Ghana Stadium.

To the Minister, the acquisition of a permanent residence for the Black Stars coach at the Airport Residential Area will save the ministry thousands of dollars which would be used to develop other sports.

He mentioned bringing the various supports Unions under one umbrella as one of his outfit’s feats.

Touching on the Dzamefe Commission’s Report, he said “There are some people indicted in the White Paper and according to the law, they have six months to contest the claims in court. Until the court takes a decision, I cannot venture into those areas. The rule of law prevails in this country and we need to respect the laws.

“Per the White Paper, there are recommendations that were accepted fully, some were accepted with modifications and others were rejected outright.

What we are implementing are the ones that were accepted by the previous government.

The Dzamefe Commission was set up after Ghana’s shambolic performance at the 2014 World Cup to find reasons for the debacle.

And responding to support for professional boxing, Mr Asiamah said the Ministry has pledged to support five boxers.

League Delay

The Minister expressed gross disappointment over the late start of the Ghana Premier League (GPL) due to the legal tussle between the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and Great Olympics.

“ I regret the late start of the league, I am not happy at all, I have asked the GFA and other stakeholders to make sure the case is resolved as a matter of urgency for the competition to start,” said the Minister.

He added “The economic gains in the league is enormous that we should do whatever it takes to get it running; it puts money in the pockets of many traders on match days.”

Black Stars Pay Cut

He described the Ministry-GFA meeting that resulted in the Black Stars winning bonus slash as highly commendable saying, “We have explained to the players that the government can no longer pay exorbitant winning bonuses given the limited resources at our disposal.

“Somebody is enjoying $10,000 and you bring it to $5,000, it is not easy at all. But I told the players that they were worth more than $5000 but let us develop that high sense of nationalism and patriotism for our country and they agreed. We now pay them in Cedis and all payments are done in Ghana.

“I want to report that the players are more patriotic to the cause of this country. Our players are more patriotic.”

Women Soccer/ Support For Federations

Mr Asiamah tagged 2018 as a year for women soccer taking into account, the First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo’s involvement in the forthcoming African Women Nations Cup, Black Queens’ feat as winners of the WAFU Zone B Cup, the Black Maidens (Women U-17) and the Black Princesses (U-20) qualifications for World Cups in Uruguay and France respectively later in the year.

He announced a $32,000 package for the Queens for the 2018 WAFU exploits; with each member of the team receiving at least $1,000.

According to the sports chief, plans to ensure adequate preparations for the Queens are in place for the hosting of this year’s Women’s soccer event, with a budget of $8m slated for it.

The Minister indicated that the Ministry’s support for other disciplines since assuming office saw the winning of close to 100 medals.

He gave the assurance of reviving the once vibrant SESSA Games for the security services and also the hosting of this year’s Sports Festival in August.

Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi debunked claims that the country’s football is taking a nosedive saying, “ …to say Ghana football is  on the decline is subjective statement to make. Holistically, I will say no, because women football in particularly has made phenomenal strides.”

$51m Debt Inherited/ Ministry Mafia

The sports chief indicated he inherited a $51m debt and attributed the successes chalked since assuming post to the creative minds of his team-his deputy, chief director, special advisor and the entire staff.

He rubbished claims that there is Mafia at the Ministry which fights Ministers, hence their rampant change. “There is no cause for alarm,” said the Minister.

He added “The so-called mafia I had heard of a long time, the so-called mafia Ghanaians have been told about, that exist at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I am happy to report to you… that I have found no mafia at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“What I have found is a team of dedicated and loyal workers and volunteers who needed the right kind of leadership and a clear direction to deliver on their mandate.

“These are Ghanaians, capable brains, creative minds who needed the right kind of leadership and a clear path to deliver on their mandate, so I am proud of my staff at the Ministry of Youth and Sports and agencies.”

Commonwealth Games

Ghana is sending a contingent to this year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia and to the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Pius Hadzide athletes who will win gold would be $ 15,000, ($5,000 from government, $10,000 from Geodrill Limited) richer, while silver and bronze medalists will pocket $3,000 and 2,000 respectively.

By Kofi Owusu Aduonum