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Track & Field News of Monday, 12 January 2009

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Francis Dodoo - Our Next Sports Minister?

(First Published on Jan 23) There are many rumors circulating regarding who the next sports minister might be. A radio station suggested this week that one name on the list is Professor Francis "Padigo" Dodoo.

The ex-triple national jump champion is certainly qualified, as a former athlete he has the knowledge foundation and experience to fill the position, but he comes with one small problem - he is not a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) inner circle.

There's no shortage of names floating for sports minister, a job where the majority of the workload in the past has been dealing with football Even so, a cast of luminaries have been mentioned, including Abuga Pele, NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for the Chiana/Paga Constituency of the Upper East Region, Enoch Teye Mensah, MP for Ningo-Prampram and Kojo Bonsu.

The chatter about each of them seems to have waxed and waned, doing more of the latter of late.

Based on the emphasis President Mills has put on technocrats to fill ministerial positions, it will be no surprise if he goes for Prof. Dodoo.

So who is Professor "Padigo" Dodoo ?

He was born and grew up in Accra, Ghana, where at a very early age his father, a two-sport national team star, introduced him to sports. Before he turned 15, Dodoo had already been invited to the national cricket team. By the time he left the shores of Ghana at age 20, he had earned call-ups to various national teams in five additional sports: volleyball, hockey, basketball, team handball, and track and field. A late arrival to track and field, he competed in the triple-jump at Achimota Secondary School and the University of Ghana.

In December 1980, he accepted an athletic scholarship to attend Washington State University in the US. In 1982, Dodoo became the national triple jump record holder. In August 1987, he went on to break the African Games Record, which remains the oldest standing continental record today; 21 years and counting. Presently, Professor Francis Dodoo is a Full Professor of Sociology and Demography and is the current director of the United Nations Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana. Below is a summary of his athletics and professional honors.

Athletics Honors

• The Grand Medal (GM) of the Republic of Ghana (2006)
• Founding Member (and First Chair) of Ghana Athletes Association
• 4-Time Track & Field Olympian (1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996)
• Ghana Olympic Ambassador (1995-1996)
• National Sportsman of the Year (1987)
• Current Holder of 21 year old All-African Games Triple Jump Record (1987, Nairobi, Kenya)
• Former National (Ghana) Triple Jump Record Holder (17.12 meters)
• First Ghanaian to break the 17 meter barrier in the triple jump
• Called up to six different national sports teams between 1974 and 1996
Professional Honors
• Full Professor and Director, UN Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana.
• Holds a College Research Chair and Full Professorship at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State).
• Taught university courses on African Demography, Research Methodology, and Sociology of Sport over 20 years.
• Published close to 50 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and given 90 scientific presentations at international fora.
• Has raised over $3m in research grant funding
• Associate of the Center for Global Health Population, Poverty, and Policy at the University of Southampton
• Finalist for International Development Research Centre (IDRC) 1st International Research Chair
• Winner of the 2007 Board of Director's Award of the National Council of Ghana Associations, New York.
• Senior Fellow of the Population Council and Director of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)in Nairobi (with average annual budget of $1,000,000), 1998-2000
• Headed various academic departments and programs in US universities
• Founding Member of the New Legon Observer
• Has served in various consulting, advisory, review, and other capacities for a number of national governments, international organizations, and charitable foundations including:
o Ghana Statistical Service (GSS)
o Ghana AIDS Commission
o United States National Institutes of Health (NIH)
o African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)
o United States National Science Foundation (NSF)
o African Development Bank (ADB)
o United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
o National Research Council of the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
o Food Security and Sustainable Development Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
o European Commission and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT) of the European Union (EU)
o German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
o German Foundation for World Population (DSW)
o Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
o International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
o Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
o Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI),
o The INDEPTH network
o The Wellcome Trust
o William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
o John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
o Rockefeller Foundation.