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Sports Features of Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Source: Adamu Benin Abdul Karim

Sissala: A hub for unearthing talented athletes but infrastructurally handicapped

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Many children who dream of becoming world-class athletes from the Sissala area of the Upper West Region have seen their childhood ambitions turned into daydreams and mostly to no avail. Naturally gifted but structurally disadvantaged teenage sports-persons struggle to climb the sports ladder as little or nothing is done to provide if not a sufficient practice ground but a safe one.

This facility predicament isn’t only bound to a certain sports discipline but across all known practised sports activities. Football, handball, basketball and the biggest of all being field and track facilities. Self-seeking athletes who dare fancy seeing their ambitions become a reality turn out to be nothing but a mirage as a result of poor sporting facilities that hovers and hoots fear in children who intend to accomplish their dreams.

An area that is fertile to produce a sprinter with the audacity to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games rubbing shoulders with world champions isn't an area to be treated merely, that's Hor Halutie. Many villagers just like Hor are struggling with a towering challenge of sports infrastructure. Athletes get to compete in a standard athletic oval only on the day of the competition in a state of naiveness rendering them unaware and ignorant of crucial tactics.

What do they know? A field of axe-dug holes mimicking sprinting lanes. Budding athletes never know the exact distance they are to compete in until the date of the event, to get first-hand information on this canker, I talked to Mr. Moro Bakudimah, a Sports teacher and also an athletics coach who has tasked himself to nurture athletes in somewhat hostile and unyielding environment.

Speaking on the state of infrastructure in the area, Mr. Moro cited the number one breakthrough athlete from the Sissala area Hor Halutie, if you don't see where she started and where she is now, you won't believe how far she has gone. We don't have a single infrastructural facility capable of training an athlete to effectively compete at the national level, said Mr. Moro Bakudimah. Aside Hor, the likes of Hajuaha from Sentie, Rukaya from Vamboi, Hannah from Kulfuo, Sakina and some other athletes have to move to the Ashanti Region to showcase their full potentials. Suleimani from Sakalu had to join a School in Kumasi to make his dreams a reality. Don't you think there are a lot more talents to be discovered in this land?

We use the direct method in training athletes: if you identify an athlete with potential, all we do is to keep patting, pushing and encouraging them to practice in a free-range system, Mr. Moro also spoke of the method used in training athletes. Mr. Moro also lamented the inability to measure the timing of athletes due to the unavailability of standard ovals, he said its with a standard oval that you'll be able to spot long distance, middle distance and short distance athletes but we dont have any here. If we were fortunate enough to have these facilities, we have athletes competent enough to surpass the landmarks Hor Halutie has achieved.

Football stadia is the better of the lot but it isn't sufficient even to host an FA cup match without upheaval. The Tumu Sports Stadium is the biggest sports facility in the Sissala area without any green grass in it, no oval in it hence the predicament of sports structure.

In 2016, Real 24hours qualified for the round 32 of the MTN FA Cup and were set to go head-to-head with giants Kumasi Asante Kotoko, instead of trying to know the team that's setting the record straight, what trafficked the media waves was the Sakora pitch that will stage the piece. The Tumu park as it was identified is housed by a gigantic wall, inside it there is an annex park with a volley court.

The main football playing surface, stony without any bit of grass in it triggering the Kotoko protest for change in venue from Tumu to Wa but football fans who were eager to throne the Tumu park to see one of the glamourous football clubs in Ghana saw the management of Real 24hours side with them to stage the game at Tumu instead of the wishful Wa park Kotoko hoped for. Does this mean that should any team from that part of the country qualify for premier league football they would have to find a venue or upgrade the existing one? Food for thought.

But there is no need to despair, ongoing projects like the Ministry of Zongo and Rural Developments one constituency one astroturf project, mass sports infrastructural upgrade and the building of mini stadia across the country. All these structure projects cannot skip the Sissala land unless there is a geographic restrict in the allocation of these projects.

With the government's staunch loyalty to bolstering sports frame in the country, I am inclined to believe that, midway through 2020 the Sissala land will have a refurbished Tumu sports stadium to accommodate an athletic oval and green grass.