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Track & Field News of Friday, 10 August 2007

Source: Andrew Owusu

Former National Athletes Set Up Scholarship Fund

Five former national athletes have announced a new scholarship system to support the top 2 male and female secondary school student athletes. The scholarship will be known as the Henry Hagan Memorial Scholarship in honor of the former national star Henry Ato Hagan aka “Astro”. This initiative is part of the current effort by select former athletes to promote the sport at the 2nd cycle institution level.

The current contributors to this scholarship are; Professor Andrew Owusu (long Jump/Triple Jump), Dr. Marc Dradozi (long jump/triple jump), Professor Christian Nsiah (100/200m), Mr. David Nti-Berko (Triple Jump) and, Professor George Darko (Triple Jump). However, these five individuals sincerely hope that other former athletes will consider contributing to this noble effort.

The scholarship will cover annual school fees and educational supplies for selected athletes. As an educator Owusu insists that this effort is about the development of student athletes. It’s not just about athletics but supporting students who happen to also be talented athletes. As such, academic performance is a major requirement for eligibility. We want these children to have a good future when their athletic careers are over. In addition, focusing on academics should greatly improve their chances of gaining scholarships into US universities to compete at the NCAA level. “To me, the math is simple” says Owusu. Invest a little on the front end in these children and someone else (possibly a university in US) might be willing to support the development of these young men and women for the next 4-5 years after SSS.

The development of local athletes as made evident by performance has all but been nonexistent for the past 7 years. In fact, there is strong evidence that the level of performance for local athletes has dropped considerably. Although a major excuse has been the lack of facilities, the contributors believe that it is not the primary reason. The donors of this scholarship ascribe to the line of reasoning that Ghana’s future success in athletics at the continental and world stage is directly link to the development and success of secondary school athletics. It is no coincidence that a majority of the previous two generations of national athletes including John Myles-Mills, Timothy Hesse, Eric Akogyram, Salam Gariba, Solomon Amegatcher, Nelson Boateng, David Nti-Berko, George Darko, Andrew Owusu, Henry Hagan (RIP), Leonard Myles-Mills M.S., Alex Dzetri, Christian Nsiah, Vida Nsiah, Monica Twum, Albert Agyemang, Tanko Briamah, Marc Dradozi, and Emanuel Osabutey were products of a vibrant secondary school athletics culture during their teenage years.

What good are Olympic level facilities if there are no viable products, i.e., young talented athletes, in the pipeline? It is wonderful that Ghana will be getting 4 new running tracks. However, the developmental system at the grassroots level has to be in place if we are to reap the benefits of this massive financial investment.

A total of 10 outstanding performers will be selected at the end of the 2007 Maria Tsakos Inter-Regional Athletics Championships (August 30th and 31st) in Koforidua. A scholarship committee will review the performance and academic record of each selected athlete. Two female and male athletes will be awarded a one-year renewable scholarship worth $250 each. For more information on this initiative, please send an email to aowusu01@yahoo.com. For more information on Henry Hagan, please visit http://prempeh.org/hagan.html

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