Thursday, 15 August 2013

Please don't go Marge, wait small small. Things might change.

Can the Ghana government stop taking the piss. Really. It's time they take life a bit more seriously and stop thinking everything is about NPP-NDC and the Black Stars line-up. Here's an article stating that the government is going to be meeting heptathlete Margaret Simpson about her threat to switch nationality to Mauritius. She has enjoyed Mauritius' hospitality for 10 years so I think it's only fair that she represents them if they'll have her.

What I don't know is what this government expects to get out of an emergency meeting with Maggie. No one wakes and just decides well I like the weather here, let me stop representing the country of my birth and heritage. What happens is that they complain, and complain, and complain, and complain, and beg and beg and beg, and make-do whilst young bucks sitting in Europe on millions of pounds throw fits about bonuses which would represent less than half a day's wages on what they're currently being paid, and out-of-shape politicians who think the remit of their position applies only to the aspects of their job that they personally find entertaining, play a little father-son game of tug of war. They show no respect for people like Maggie, one might even say they treat them with contempt. But in the end, when people like Maggie grow tired, they host emergency meetings and advertise the fact that these meetings are taking place, because at the end of the day the rate of desertion from the sinking Ghana sports ship "doesn't speak well of the country".

What doesn't speak well of the country is a showing of 7 athletes at the biggest sporting event in the world, not even a football team despite us trying so hard to embed our footballing "success" into Brand Ghana. When other countries contribute hundreds, when even peer nations (in terms of wealth) have much larger teams which part of that speaks well of the country. When we overlook sporting heroes to rename stadia again and again after our best friends or best friends dads, or some of the largest sports in the world, and some of the cheapest sports in the world are non-existent in our nation because we've thrown all our eggs and some of our neighbours' into the one basket; when we can be certain that our minister of sport will be at a tournament although we're not sure whether we'll find a full line up of sporting stars that the minister's just forked out thousands to go and see (it's not a holiday he promises) which part of that speaks well of the country.

Now there are some sports that our athletes can't stop representing Ghana in, for instance, we've got Kevin Prince Boateng for life now. It's not a question of who he plays for but rather if he plays full stop and I think we can be guaranteed that as long as we keep making it to the World Cup tournaments we'll find him in a shirt at least for 1 month every 4 years. But the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports shouldn't have to be having these types of meetings at all. If the whole infrastructure needs to be broken down and rebuilt then they must do it, but we must see better facilities so that athletes can train at home, we must see a fairer divide of funds, the GFA must find ways to pay for itself because after 30 years without a trophy they really haven't justified the money they take. The government must think of ways to promote local sports and local leagues to monetise them. We can no longer be giving random appearance bonuses and cars for coming second - I mean can you imagine!?! A refocus of efforts to new (to Ghana) sports - such as rugby, kayaking, swimming - and extreme sports such as paragliding, longboarding and the Dakar rally is necessary now.

Oh, and the obvious one of listening and acting on the needs of athletes regardless of the sport before they decide to switch nationality is always good suggestion.

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