Home Opinion Featured Articles Accra 2023: Experiencing the African Sporting Dream, Yes We Can

Accra 2023: Experiencing the African Sporting Dream, Yes We Can

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13th African Games
13th African Games

Ghana’s forefathers always relished hosting the whole of Africa in various sporting disciplines, but that was only a dream for them.

The Genesis

This generation will live that dream when Ghana hosts the African Games for the first time since its inception in 1965, and it is certainly their time to showcase Ghana’s supreme sporting prowess and the warmth hospitality.

A historic sporting moment beacons, in Ghana’s sporting history as the 13th African Games takes centre stage from March 8–23, 2024.

Ghana will be hosting the mega-sporting event, with over 3500 elite athletes from 54 African countries converging in Accra to battle in over 30 sporting disciplines.

Despite the doubts that shrouded the organisation of the games, the recent 100-day countdown ceremony was a significant triumph for the Local Organising Committee (LOC), signaling Ghana’s readiness to host and deliver one of the best games ever.

Overcoming the hitches

Ghana won the bid to host the African Games back in 2017, ahead of Nigeria and Burkina Faso, who also showed interest.

Subsequently, Ghana signed an agreement with the African Union to host the event in 2021, with the dates originally scheduled for August 4–19, 2023.

The outbreak of COVID-19 hindered preparatory activities, including the renovation and building of new sporting arenas, raising doubts about Ghana’s ability to successfully host the games.

This resulted in an impasse between Ghana, the African Union (AU), the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), and the Association of African Sports Confederations (AASC).

Presidential intervention

In early 2023, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who attended an AU summit in Addis Ababa, played a crucial role in resolving the impasse, paving the way for the hosting of the games with a new date agreed on.

This move by President Akufo-Addo was a game-changer, as the government sped up the development of infrastructure with an investment of $154 million.

Dr. Ofosu-Asare, speaking at a recent press soiree, lauded President Akufo-Addo for his commitment and tenacity towards the hosting of the games.

“People didn’t give us the chance when we were constituted. We want to thank the President because, when things were tough, he kept believing in us.

“He always encouraged us that Ghana will not pull out of the games and that we must host the games to make Ghana and Africa proud.

Dr. Ofosu-Asare, however, noted how negative reportage about infrastructure development in recent years had affected Ghana’s sporting image internationally but was delighted they were back on track.

“This project is our project and the entire country’s project. Our forefathers didn’t get the chance to host the African Games, but this is our time.

“What are we doing to help Ghana successfully host its first African games ever? The world is watching us, and the slightest thing we put out thus affects the image of the game,” he told newsmen.

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Nasser, the Vice-Chairperson of the Technical Committee for the African Games, expressed excitement in a recent site inspection about the remarkable progress achieved in the preparation for the 13th African Games.

Recounting Ghana’s glory days

The 2003 All African Games was one of Ghana’s most successful outings at the games, having bagged 25 medals and placing 10th on the medal table.

Team Ghana won four gold medals, five silver medals, and 16 bronze medals from the 200 athletes presented for the Games.

Dr. Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah, Chef de Mission (CDM) for Team Ghana at the Abuja Games, revealed in an interview with GNA Sports that top athletes received massive motivation ahead of the games.

He noted that elite athletes like Margaret Simpson (Heptathlon), Ignatius Gaisah (Long Jump), and Andrew Owusu (Triple Jump), who won gold medals at the Abuja Games, received motivation for the games, especially with arch-rivals Nigeria bringing forth some of its top athletes.

“One major factor that accounted for our success in Abuja was how prepared and motivated our top athletes were at that time.

“Special treatment was given to top medal hopefuls, and this motivated them to give their best for Ghana,” he said.

He stated that Ghana had previously had successful outings in the 1973 All African Games and subsequently in 2011 and 2015, but stated that the Abuja Games was Ghana’s most successful outing thus far.

When asked if Ghana could replicate its success in the upcoming African Games, Dr. Owusu-Ansah said it was not too late to motivate athletes and fast track their preparations.

“Athletes like Benjamin Azamati, who are high medal hopefuls, deserve high motivation, and we should look at doing things that would improve his performance at the games.

“The preparation for the games has to be intense, and medal hopefuls should be identified and treated well,” he stated.

Athlete Preparedness

Not being in the top 10 countries on the medals chart would become a ‘disastrous’ outcome for Ghana at the games, considering the massive investment that has gone into the organisation of the games.

With Ghana set to present 560 athletes across various disciplines, as disclosed by Mr. Ernest Danso, the Chef de Mission (CDM), Ghanaians would be highly expectant of many medals.

This assertion was shared by Mr. Danso, who at the press soiree stated that Team Ghana was going to win medals across various sporting disciplines.

“I want to assure Ghanaians that Team Ghana is poised, and they are ready. We are not sitting idle, and we will promise that there will be medals from the team,” he said.

Regardless of the media reports that suggested that Ghana had no team for the games, Mr. Danso refuted the claims, saying that various disciplines were preparing, with camp set to open

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