There’s so much talk on TeamGhana now that the Olympics have ended. And its not like we were paying attention to them while they were there. You can’t blame us. Our president was being buried, and there were the Phelps, Bolts and Blakes to be following; that’s where the excitement was. But you know who else you can’t blame? The athletes. Here’s why:
A few days ago my stance on this was different. I thought our performance at the Olympics didn’t really mean much. It’s someone’s games. We can’t be killing ourselves to impress on their stage. I was thinking we should embrace our local sports instead of spend so much on the Olympic team just to win medals. There were a variety of sports at London 2012 and I don’t think Yaa Asantewa and Okɔmfo Anokye played any of them when they were kids. Maybe they ran, maybe they swam, but definitely not basketball or equestrian. I didn’t see Jamaica win gold in archery, but they were overjoyed with their track performances. Why couldn’t we do same? Why couldn’t we be content with what we had? Content with our sub-standard performance? Content with our poor organisation?
Because sub-standard is never good enough for us. And because its too late to latch onto our traditional sports if we had any. We’ve already let go of them (blame colonization but it doesn’t matter) and picking them up now would be like going after skiing medals.
So if we’re already part of the commonwealth and the Olympics we might as well just settle for participation medals. Right? Wrong! Well, right. If indeed its our best. At least paint a good picture of the country out there (thank goodness our athletes didn’t go missing). I wouldn’t call their appearance at the Olympics a shame just because they came back empty handed. Out of how many thousand athletes a lot of countries were bound to leave with zero-zero-zero.
What I blame is the administrative failure to make sure we put up our best show. You think people will be complaining this much if we sent a much bigger team? Competing in all the events we could. If they hyped the team years before. If they gathered our support. We have a world boxing champion who has set out to use his retirement to set up a boxing academy (We may not have recognized, but faraway CNN has). Ministry of Youth and Sports could take that up. At least that’s one event down. Then there’s hockey and football, which we take so much pride in. Is their absence from this years Olympics explainable? What happened to all the macho men from Odododiodio who have been on the news since the voters’ registration exercise? Couldn’t they train as weightlifters? And there are a couple of other events that we’d have been able to proudly compete in. But what happened? How did we end up taking unfit athletes? Who’s responsibility was it to check their health?
And there are all these inter-school athletics competitions. If they send out scouts to find these talents and ensure that committing the next 3, 4 years preparing for the Olympics under the Ghana Olympic Committee won’t be a waste of the lives (i.e. providing coaches, facilities, benefits, exposure) I’m sure we’ll put up a better performance at Rio. Can we not establish training centres or sport academies?
We need a youth reform. And this is not a matter of which party is in power. Isn’t there a ministry of Education, Youth and Sports? Shouldn’t they function no matter what? Is it money they don’t have? Aren’t these big companies willing to sponsor? MTN and Vodafone sponsor practically everything. RLG is always giving money here and there. Look at all the funeral donors. I’m guessing if the people in charge bothered we’d be better off. Team Ghana had no support. How many people can name one of the athletes we sent? It shouldn’t just be about Black Stars.
We can do this. It’s not about the medals. At least not right away. It’s the effort we’re lacking right now. Even with football this effort is missing. Aside the Black Stars, we aren’t really bothered about football. Unless some under-something team is winning a cup. We rally support temporarily, promote the players to the national team and forget that team. Where are the Meteors and Satellites? See us chasing La Liga and Premier League matches. It even feels like Berekum Chelsea are out there on their own.
Ayekoo to the organisers who accompanied the athletes to London as an opportunity to do summer shopping for their children. Looking forward to Rio in 2014 with the Black Stars (if they qualify). We hope 2016 doesn’t turn out to be a chance to get their wives and daughters some Brazillian weave.
PS. The title of this posts means “Welcome Back Disgraceful Poeple” or something to that effect.