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Sports News of Saturday, 23 October 1999

Source: GNA

First Lady commissions football academy

Gomoa Fetteh (C/R), Oct 23, GNA - The First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings on Saturday commissioned a 1.4 million dollar football academy at Gomoa Fetteh in the Central region.

The academy, known as the "Feyenoord Fetteh football academy", was established by "Feyenoord Rotterdam", a football club in Holland, as its contribution to the development of football in the country.

It has the capacity to accommodate 32 students but currently has on roll 18 boys aged between 10 to 14 years, drawn from various parts of the country.

The academy will, in addition to helping the students to tap their potential in football, provide them with formal education from the basic to the second cycle levels.

It has classrooms, training grounds and dormitories. Nana Konadu deplored the impression among some people that sports is the preserve of school dropouts or for those who are unable to continue their education beyond the basic level, due to certain reasons.

She called for this misconception to change since professions in sports are equally important as in medicine or engineering.

"We need to change our present outlook to the discipline and accept it as a profession", she said. Nana Konadu, however, pointed out that this would require educating sportsmen and women to appreciable levels, and the engagement of highly skilled personnel to administer and manage sports in the country.

Such education is necessary to prevent the exploitation of sportsmen as is currently being revealed at the on-going player transfer probe, the First Lady emphasised.

She commended the Dutch football club for its initiative, which she said is a major step towards exploring skills in football to develop the nation, as well as a positive response to government's invitation to private investment in the sports sector.

The First Lady noted the economic gains that sports could bring to the nation and said football could be a major source of national income if a systematic and scientific approach was adopted to improve it.

Nana Konadu reminded the students that sports thrives on discipline, commitment and dedication, and urged them to be committed to their training and must obey their instructors.

She said such attitude would help them to acquire the needed skills to develop into football stars, and reminded the authorities of the school not to hesitate to instil discipline in the young stars.

The First Lady appealed to philanthropists, private institutions and other benevolent organisations to offer sponsorship packages to the nation's women soccer team, the "Black Queens", to enable them to improve on their performance, and suggested a similar academy for girls.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr E.T Mensah, noted that the government recognised the need to inject technical and scientific discipline into the game of football.

He described sports development as a very expensive venture, and the establishment of the academy was a positive response to calls on the private sector to invest in the sector.

The Netherlands Ambassador, Mr Alexander Heldring, noted that the nation has many talented football players some of whom have been playing for "Feyenoord" and said that he was convinced that the academy would enjoy a prosperous future.

The President of Feyenoord, Mr Jorien Van Den Herik, said the club took advantage of the conducive atmosphere prevailing in the country to establish the school to help enhance the promotion and development of football in the country.

The Regional Minister, Lt. Col.Charles Agbenaza (rtd), charged the chiefs and people in the area to help prevent any land or chieftaincy litigation that might jeopardise the objective for which the academy has been established.

Okukutan Ahunaku Acquah I, Omanhnene of Gomoa Akyempim traditional area who presided, expressed his people's readiness to give the necessary support to the academy, and appealed for more investments in the area.

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