President of the Ghana Athletics Association, Prof. Francis Dodoo, has said the nation should be supportive of the emerging crop of athletes and allow them to grow in the sport so they can be huge successes in the future.
Ghana presented young athletes like Martha Bissah, Flings Owusu-Agyapong, Gemma Acheampong and Nadia Eke at the Commonwealth Games and the African Athletics Championships.
He explained that the athletes were still learning more about their crafts and soon, they would become as successful as the leading African athletes who themselves went through the same learning curve.
“The truth of the matter is that the young athletes we have at the moment are their early 20s and they are the core of the team. We took 25 or 26 athletes to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. We had a 30-year old and two 29-year old but the average age was about 21 and that’s how young our team is, Prof. Dodoo said at the Justice Dzamefe Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.
He continued: “When you look at medallists on the continent like Blessing Okagbare (of Nigeria), you will see that they are about six or seven years older than our athletes. You will those who finished university four or five years ago after studying in places like the United States.
My suggestion to Ghanaians is that we need to understand we were in a bad spot a few years ago and we have to stay with the young people and give them the support.”
Prof. Dodoo also appealed to the Commission to help athletes receive payments in the form of per diems, allowances and bonuses owed them by the state after competing for the nation. He stated that aside the lack of funds supporting athletics and the other sporting disciplines, the state also had to pay honour its obligations to athletes.
“My Lord, even beyond the money that I think we should invest in sports, there are monies that are due these athletes for competing in the national colours since 2012. They hear that the monies have been given and because they have not received them, think those of us in charge have taken those monies.
These things worry them psychologically because they lose motivation after some time. We recently heard of the athlete who complained of her allowances during the Nanjing Games and these things should not happen.
We are talking about $100 or $200 dollar amounts so I do not get why these monies are paid four years down the road. It is something that we really need to look at.”
By: Nathan Quao/citifmonline.com/Ghana