Empowering African Sports: A Brighter Future for Athletes

Ben Nunoo Mensah
Ben Nunoo Mensah

In the heart of Africa, sports enthusiasts and leaders recently gathered for the annual sports summit to discuss the future of athletics on the continent.

The summit, a platform to deliberate and make decisions for Africa and its individual countries, brought together sports luminaries from various regions. Among the attendees was Ben Nunoo Mensah, President of the Ghana Olympic Committee, who highlighted the potential and challenges faced by African athletes.

Kenya, once known for its long-distance runners, has seen a significant shift with Ferdinand Omanyala emerging as the fastest man in Africa. Similarly, Ghana and Nigeria used to dominate short-distance events, exemplified by their historic 4×100 meters victory at the 1966 Commonwealth Games. The success of these athletes can be attributed to various factors, including modern facilities, proper athlete care, good nutrition, coaching, and motivation.

During the summit, Ben Nunoo Mensah stressed the importance of prioritizing the health and safety of athletes. He shared his experience of inviting former world record holder and champion, Jamaican Asafa Powell, to inspire young athletes in Ghana. Powell expressed concern over the lack of basic facilities in Accra. However, Mensah expressed optimism that the African Games would help address some of these deficiencies.

One key takeaway from the summit was the significance of investing in the youth, the rising stars of African sports. Mensah emphasized the need to plan ahead and nurture young talent, believing that catching them young would be instrumental in securing medals at global sporting events such as the Olympics and African Games.

Under Mensah’s leadership, Ghana made a remarkable comeback at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, securing a bronze medal in boxing. He attributed this success to careful athlete monitoring, selection of capable and young athletes, and the desire to foster long-term talent development.

However, Mensah acknowledged some existing challenges faced by African athletes, such as lack of education, proper nutrition, and scientific technical training. Addressing these issues, along with better remuneration for local athletes, could pave the way for African athletes to compete at par with their counterparts from other continents.

Mensah urged corporate institutions to recognize the immense potential of sports as a tool for advertising and marketing. He envisioned leveraging the natural talent and DNA advantage that many African athletes possess, creating strong marketing brands and businesses for the continent.

Moreover, the media was not left untouched during the summit. Mensah appreciated the role of media in promoting sports but urged them to build capacity and stay abreast of modern trends in the age of social media to reach a wider audience.

As the summit concluded, Mensah extended a warm invitation to participants to join Ghana in hosting the 13th African Games in March next year. He hoped that through collaborative efforts and shared passion for sports, Africa could unlock its athletes’ potential and rise to new heights in the global sporting arena.

In conclusion, the sports summit underscored the importance of investing in African sports, particularly the youth, and addressing the challenges that hinder their growth. With determination, dedication, and collaboration, African athletes can become formidable competitors on the world stage, and sports can become a catalyst for positive change and growth across the continent.

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