The 2017 sporting year has definitely been one to forget for Ghana, a country that is evidently blessed with an abundance of sporting talent.
The year started in a ‘familiar’ fashion. The Black Stars failed to win the AFCON stretching our drought to 35 years.
The Black Stars basically lacked consistency and drive throughout the tournament and eventually fell at the semi-final stage to an inexperienced but hungry Cameroonian side.
That tournament obviously cost then Head Coach, Avram Grant, his job and he was surprisingly replaced by Kwesi Appiah. The 52-year old former Black Stars player did nothing to please football fans by way of results except a very deceiving 5-0 win over Ethiopia in his first game in charge after his return.
Fast forward to the end of the year, Black Stars failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 12 years after blowing a major chance to revive the race for qualification; a boring 1-1 draw at home against Congo.
The Blacks Starlets raised the hopes of many Ghanaians after their showing at the U-17 African Championship.
The team raced into the finals with a simple, sublime attacking brand of football which saw them score a total of 9 goals at the competition.
Unfortunately, nerves stepped in at the final hurdle and they were defeated 1-0 by Mali.
Many would have thought the team would learn from the experience at the African Championships but that was not the case. After breezing into the quarter finals they met Mali, and again were beaten; not because the Malians were technically superior, but because of nerves.
The manner in which the team exited that tournament was as frustrating as things could get and that was the sour end of the Starlets at the competition.
It seems the country should start paying close attention to women’s football seriously.
The only joy Ghana received from football during the 2017 calendar year was from the two female youth teams: the Black Princesses and the Black Maidens.
The Princesses bulldozed their way towards yet another appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup dispatching off both Algeria and Kenya with a combined aggregate score of 20-2.
This amazing feat earned Yusif Basigi’s side a nomination for the Best Female National Team award at next year’s CAF Awards.
The Black Maidens have also followed their seniors in a similar fashion beginning their World Cup qualification in style with a comfortable win over Gambia.
In athletics, Ghana’s contingent at the World Athletics Championships once again came home with no medals.
In fact, none of our athletes qualified from the first round in any of their disciplines, and Ghana had the triple jump African champion Nadia Eke in her ranks but she also failed to qualify from the first round.
Interestingly, in an interview with the PRO of the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA) prior to the competition, Nadia Eke revealed how she had struggled in her preparation for the competition as she had to fully fund for treatment of injuries she sustained before the meet as well as a part time coach due to the lack of a full time coach.
That was the sort of preparation that the African Champion had before the World Championships, and she was to compete against athletes who had prepared for years under the best conditions for the same prize.
One would have thought that the GAA would have heavily invested in her since she was one of Ghana and Africa’s biggest medal hopes at the competition.
The GAA, however, received over $84,000 from the Sports Ministry for the competition. Pathetic.
The way forward
The Sports Ministry has spoken about a possible categorization of the sporting federations heading into 2018.
The move is to boost development of various sporting disciplines around the country to increase popularity and gain general acceptance of the lesser known sports. But the problem is what does the country gain by sending our sportsmen out to represent the nation?
Take a look at the results of the national teams of the most popular sports in the country this year, and one wonders what the country got in return in terms of revenue.
The funding of the national teams is an investment, and every investment requires returns. Ghana is blessed beyond reason when it comes to sporting ability and the sooner we take the development of these gifts seriously, which will reflect in our output at international competitions the better for us.
It’s no surprise that the Ghana Statistical Service estimated sports’ contribution to the Gross domestic product (GDP) of the country at just over 1%.
2018 is upon us and it provides a fresh page for us to start.
2018 looks like a promising year but our federations who will represent this country in international competitions should tell all of us that participating is not enough.
They must return to Ghana with significant results.
By: Daniel Koranteng/citifmonline.com/Ghana');