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Sports Features of Monday, 31 July 2017

Source: Kwame Dwomoh-Agyemang

Gyan: A charitable colossus worth celebrating

Various sporting icons earn staggering amounts of money from their trade and rightly so. For them, it’s a dint of hard work and support from close friends and family that have seen them reach the heights that they find themselves.

For many, the millions mean nothing if the wider community does not benefit from their earnings. The staggering amounts have been subject to debate with the Pope (John Paul) expressing his unhappiness with the amount (£13m) Milan had to pay to acquire the ownership rights of one Gianluigi Lentini from Torino.

The game is now pretty much commercialised to a point where that figure paid in 1992 looks very much like chicken change these days.

These sporting icons are very much aware that they are in the public eye for these ridiculous earnings and the smarter ones have always held sway with their shrewd investments and their commitment to the larger society. One individual here in Ghana comes atop my mind.

I found myself within the confines of Accra Academy towards the end of the last century as a student. Prior to my three years in there, I had heard all the talk about the school churning out top athletes across the various sporting disciplines though a greater number tended to be sprinters. Moses Gagakuma, the Myles Mills brothers relatively come to mind.

The footballers were also very much iconic at the time. Years down the line, a certain Yaw Asamoah Gyan emerged on the shores of Bleoobii. We all do know now what he has turned out to be at various clubs the globe over and in the national shirt.

If there is one feat that would probably take a pretty long while to break, it would have to do with his goal scoring feat with the national team. It is 51 and counting. And that is very much enough to be celebrated.

I am particularly pleasantly surprised at how his latest project to give back to society is already touching lives. It is not very often that you have a player who probably does not have too much years ahead of him focusing on spending such a large amount of money (in excess of €200,000) on an astro turf with all its maintenance-related costs.

You would have thought his focus at the turn of 30 (he is 32 on Nov 22) would be to invest every penny in projects that would improve his bank balance.

Far from that. His personal interest in the project, where he has paid regular visits, speaks of how attached the Bleoobi is to the project. He has been there to check on the final bits in the last few days ahead of the grand opening on Tuesday, July 18.

It would be some sight to behold in the history of the nation as Accra Academy would become the first second cycle institution to own such a top facility. It doesn’t happen every day. Not even elite clubs boast of such facilities, not to talk of maintaining them.

For the current generation of footballers in the Bleoo fold and that of the near and distant future, this could not have come at a better time. The significance in here being that the ages of students within the second cycle enclave hovers between 15 and18, an age where astro turfs play a huge role in developing young talent at academies all over the world.

These kids now do not have to travel to Tema or Sogakope to hone their talent and possibly catch the eye of some scouts in further developing themselves. They can do it right there on the Asa Pitch.

Great work this, Asa, and I am sure it would be the prayer of every Bleoobi and beyond that the facility when commissioned would be well maintained for future generations.

Salute Dr Yaw Asamoah Gyan. You have made it happen bruv. You would be celebrated for a very long time to come.

The other bits only speak for themselves. Wenchi Water Projects at US$50,000, Korle-Bu Cardio Centre at US$15,000, victims of June 3 Disaster (Products) - US$5,000, Kumasi Central Hospital (Soccer Fiesta) - US$5,000, Suhum Ghana Blind Union - US$ 5,000, Black Queens All Africa Games - US$10,000, school fees for needy but brilliant students - US$7,000, Black Queens on birthday - US$30,000, Accra Academy Astro Turf- US$250,000, Hohoe St Francis College of Education School Water Project – US$ 30,000, sponsorship of three students for master’s programme - US$58,000, Ridge Hospital and Mamprobi Polyclinic surgical and delivery equipment – US$20,000.

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