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Sports Features of Saturday, 22 November 2014

Source: patrick akoto/ editor,

Yaw Sakyi Afari hard at work in Ghana

From a country where football is admired and considered as the sovereign sport, one man is undertaking the challenge to change this perspective and spread the game of basketball in Ghana, a fairytale of a young man who NEVER graced the court.

Young, affable, humble and enterprising entrepreneur, Yaw Sakyi Afari, is living the dream of making basketball a career avenue for players in a country which has been dominated by football for decades. He has taken the onerous task of giving a new image to the sport, rebranding it to become hugely popular amongst the youth in the country.

He has set an audacious target of building on the long history of the game and make it the most attractive sports in the country. With the growing number of Ghanaian players travelling to the United States of America with a view of being drafted into the NBA growing, there is a massive sign of hope that the game will hit the heights expected.

Products of the famous Sprite Ball Championships including Ernest Aflakpui, Amida Brimah, Patrick Koby Adjetey and Julian Morgan to mention a few have all gained educational scholarships with teams in the States.

“Year after year, the number of players in the country is increasing and obviously the presence of Ghanaian players in America and other parts of the world is refreshing for us,” Afari said.

Yaw Sakyi Afari has developed the game right from the grassroot where major tournaments like Junior Ball, Sprite Ball Championship, Community Dunks and UPAC Basketball Championship have become a regular itinerary on the basketball calendar.

Through the famous Sprite Ball Championship held every year since 2007, hundreds of teenagers emerge to glaze the door where they are mentored by seasoned tacticians.

The introduction of the Ghana Basketball and Leadership Camp has enhanced the developmental drive of the project as players receive top level instructions on court with life skills seminars focusing on the values of the game like leadership, character development and living a healthy lifestyle.

“They love to come and work with these kids. They work with young people and mentor them and are always looking to inspire them,” explained Afari.

“We are going to continue to be strategic but at the same time not discount a country because at the end of the day it is about increasing the participation of youth in our sport. It is about growing a firm base and we shall use the opportunity to do that.”

“We are very proud of what we have been able to build the sports so far with which has been predominantly been embraced by the youth.

“We started from the scratch and today we have achieved modest success in the country. Basketball is now the second most sports after football in Ghana especially among the youth and we hope to build on that.”

“This is about empowering the youth forward, using the game as a tool to continue to motivate and inspire.” Afari, who is keen on increasing the accessibility of the game in Ghana, is impressed with the partnership signed with TV 3 who air the NBA and local basketball news to millions in Ghana and around the globe.

The Fast Break Show which airs on Sundays (between 12:30-3pm) is the first ever show solely dedicated to the game of basketball in Africa and provides the platform for insightful discussions on the growth of the game.

The platform is slowly ticking in boxes and providing fans with a touch point to consume the game of basketball which continues to attract floating members of the public.

“The Fast Break Show on TV3 has been ground-breaking for us as it has increased the followers of the game in the country and beyond.”

“We’ll also be forever grateful to Coca-Cola Company Limited for believing in the dream and given the youngsters the opportunity to realize their potential and make the sport a career avenue.” Developing the game at the base remains the core mission of the Chief Executive of Rite Multimedia and he says the agenda is yielding positive dividends.

“We have developed a very robust grassroot platform across the country we see talent emerging from our various tournaments every year. We have had quite a number of players who have attended the camp and are now playing in the league. It is a lot to be proud of but at the same time we realize we are only scratching the surface. There is a lot of work to be done.”

Afari is dedicated to working with all stakeholders including government through their sports ministers and the federation to build the infrastructure of the sport.

“We can only grow the sport through partnership because we cannot do it alone. Particularly, here in Ghana the potential is so huge but at the same time, it requires a lot of work especially in basketball where you need basic infrastructure. You need to build courts and develop a lot of expertise to really sustain the development initiatives.”

It’s only been a short journey of seven years, but Rite Multimedia has carved a great niche of integrity and professional competence to steer the game to the highest level with continuous events at the Junior, High School and tertiary level.

“There has been a lot of excitement during our tournaments and we’re looking to doing more and continue to build from there.” The TV star is optimistic that the game of basketball is going to continue to grow in the country as they lay out plans to work with the federation especially in regards to technical expertise and grassroot development.

The development and promotion of basketball in Ghana has seen a massive leap since Rite Multimedia took a giant and an audacious initiative to promote the game seven years ago.

The Accra-based private event company has managed to heighten the interest of the game in the country, especially among the youth. The vision is on course and only a matter of time for the nation to yield the fruit of hard work and perseverance.