So Far, So Good For Sports Minister

It is said that the one drawing a straight line does not see how crooked his back is. That is true. It is, only proper, therefore, that one is whipped into line when things are not going right.

Perhaps, there is absolutely nothing wrong when people in responsible positions are put on their toes; but when it is done in such manner as to suggest they are not up to the task – when indeed, the opposite is the case, it raises lots of eyebrows.

Last Tuesday, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Isaac Kwame Asiamah, took his turn to address the media on developments in his sector, projecting a prospective future for Ghana sports. He did his presentation in the most unsophisticated, straightforward manner.

That has been his style since he was appointed a little over one year ago. He is the give-and-go-say-it-as-it-is kind of person. He does not play with words as others would.

Interestingly, instead of critically looking at what the sector ministry had done so far and the minister’s projections for the year, some people have rather decided to assault his style of delivering the Queen’s language.

For many, the criticism is all-too trivial and inconsequential to the bigger picture of putting our sports in good shape for posterity. Let us not try to give a dog a bad name and hang it. Asiamah might not be that smooth, silky, sweet-flowing and sparkling speaker that you would want to occupy the hot seat of Ghana sports, but he robustly appears to be the man with the clairvoyance to change things for the better.

Though only a year in the saddle, Asiamah attracted one of the biggest plaudits when his ministry this month, presented a six-bedroom apartment to current coach of the Black Stars, Kwesi Appiah, as his permanent official residence. The fully-furnished apartment, which is situated at the Airport Residential Area, will also serve as the official apartment for all subsequent coaches of the senior national team.

For many years – maybe decades, the nation has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on hotel accommodation for the coaches of the men’s senior national team, Black Stars. This lavish, uneconomical, nonsensical and above all dreadful practice began somewhere in the late 80s until last month – with no real end in sight.

The cost of hotel accommodation for Ghana’s last expatriate coach in the person of Avram Grant was $10,000 a month – about GH¢450m in the old currency. It was as crazy as reprehensible.

We have had dozens of sports ministers offering lip services to this imposing inventiveness. They make a racket, roar and scream on top of their voices in condemning the situation where the coaches were accommodated in hotels – but have done absolutely nothing about it.

It has taken one bold and visionary minister who took office just a little over a year ago, to fulfil this laudable promise. Doubtless, Asiamah has proven all the cynics wrong – demonstrating that he has more under his sleeve.

If nobody pats him at the back for his sense of clairvoyance and the first-rate work done so far, then would it be justifiable too to drag him to the cleaners?

Known as the Man-of-Action, Asiamah says he is unswerving in his commitment to providing and maintaining the necessary sports infrastructure for sustained development in sports and to ensure that sports is used as a tool to promote the image of Ghana and contribute to national development.

As a matter of fact, some of the sports infrastructural developments have started in earnest.

The rehabilitation of the Accra Sports Stadium and the reconstruction of the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex are already on course. Same can be said about the refurbishment of the dilapidated office of the ministry.

We are also being told that the Sports Ministry is in the process of building state-of-the-art resort centres for the youth in all 10 regions. The laudable project is expected to take off with the Kaneshie Sports Complex – which would be christened the Azumah Nelson Youth and Sports Centre.

“These centres would have the following facilities; FIFA standard football pitches in all the 10 regions, basketball courts, handball courts, volleyball courts, tennis courts, housing rooms,ICT centres, entrepreneurship training centres, restaurants, gymnasiums and multi-purpose conference or theatre halls,” Asiamah stated at Tuesday’s press conference.

Perceptibly, Asiamah, who is Ghana’s 23rd Sports Minister since E.R.K Dwomon’s appointment as Sports Commissioner in 1978, appears all-too famished to work and achieve results.

However, he may have to work a lot more – especially with regard to his promise to craft a Youth in Sports module, with special spotlight on women’s participation in sports; and turn the dilapidated Azumah Nelson Sports Complex into a first-class edifice.

Constructed in 1978 as a training facility for teams at the Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Ghana, the complex, named after Ghana’s world boxing prodigy Azumah Nelson, is currently in ruins. On a tour of some sporting facilities in the country in April last year, Asiamah told the media that he was studying proposals to redesign the sports complex estimated at $4 million. Heartily, the pledge is now turning into reality.

Matter of fact, Ghanaians would be thrilled to see the reconstruction of the Kaneshie complex as a befitting tribute to the celebrated Nelson – World Boxing Hall of Famer and the greatest boxer Africa has ever seen.

They say it is the crooked wood (or stick) that reveals who the true sculptor is. Kudos, Asiamah!