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Bodybuilding of Thursday, 28 May 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

We would have hosted Africa championship - Armwrestling President laments impact of coronavirus

At the turn of the year, industry players had high hopes that the year was going to be a remarkable one where all their hard works were going to pay off and the sport was going to assume a position akin to that of football and athletics.

But like every other sport, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on armwrestling has been calamitous.

At the global level, meetings have either been postponed indefinitely or held on virtual platforms. Events which were designed to promote the fast-growing sporting discipline have suffered fates similar to any other major sporting activity in the world.

After an excellent job two years ago, Ghana was handed rights to hold the Africa Armwrestling Championship after South Africa were stripped off the rights due to administrative lapses.

Plans were set in motion and consultations with various stakeholders were being held to deliver another flawless armwrestling festival until the disaster struck.

From its origin in China, the novel virus swept across the face of the earth like another holocaust, forcing nations to take drastic measures to protect their citizens.

On March 15, Ghana declared a ban on forms of social gathering and that was like a knife pierced through the hearts of all sports administrators including the Ghana Armwrestling Federation.

It has been more than two months since the ban and Charles Osei Assibey, President of the Ghana Armwrestling tells www.ghanaweb.com the impact the virus has had on his sport.

“We had a series of activities for the year and started with the armwrestling showdown. We were going to the Tertiary institutions to organize something we call Campus Rumble but the pandemic halted us. Especially when the President had to place a ban on social gatherings. Again we had also signed a partnership agreement deal with a national broadcaster to begin the broadcasting league so that one is also on hold”.

“The one which is more worrying is the fact that Ghana got the right to host the Africa Armwrestling Championship in July but the whole world has been faced with this pandemic and every activity, the Olympics, NBA, soccer events, everything has been suspended so currently, that championship is also on hold. We had begun discussions with stakeholders and what I believe is that once you hold tournaments, you develop infrastructure, enhance competition, improve tourism and a lot of things. By the fact that we were going to host, we were going to buy or get equipment from the World Armwrestling Federation, investors were going to come and many of our athletes were going to get an opportunity to compete in Africa. We have been hit by this blow”, he said.

Across the globe, companies have been forced to downsize as the virus has affected revenue flow but fortunately for the armwrestling players none has lost a job and Osei Assibey takes some solace in that.

But their training has been hit as gyms have closed down and recreational centres are no longer operational. Unable to compete in activities means extra incomes have ceased.

“The few who work haven’t lost their jobs but what is worrying is the break in their training rudiments because they were preparing for Africa and that’s why they were going to play the league so that it will keep them in shape for the championship. A few of the regional and communal events we do, there is prize money but because they are not playing they won’t get the money so they are losing in a way. But they are intrinsically motivated and hopeful that the virus will be over soon for them to go back to the gym”.

For a sport that relies heavily on funding from companies, it is a not wrong for one to assume that funding their activities post-COVID-19 will be a difficult task and that reality is not lost on Osei Assibey who is confident the brand created in the last four years will make armwrestling appealing in the eyes of institutions.

“Because companies have been affected, they won’t be able to invest so much either on sponsorship or CSR but we will continue to engage our friends and convince them to know the reason why they must invest in armwrestling. I don’t see investment in sports as sponsorship or being a father Christmas. We must convince them and give them reasons to invest in the sport. It won’t come easy because globally every company is suffering but we will breakthrough because we know how to do it.”

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