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Opinions of Saturday, 26 January 2008

Columnist: Appiah Kusi Adomako

GHANA 2008: Development Of A Nation Through Sports

Why should the government spend millions of dollars to build two new stadia when some people cannot afford just one square meal a day? Why do we have to commit all our resources to organise Ghana @ 50 when some school kids still study under dilapidated structures? Why should the government give the Electoral Commission of Ghana millions of dollars to conduct this year?s election when some people can?t get potable water to drink? These are genuine concerns but not relevant questions.

If it has not been Ghana participating in the 2006 World Cup in Germany most Ghanaians adored American and European nations? flags than that of us. Since our maiden appearance at the World Cup and the subsequent Ghana@50 celebrations, Ghanaians are now more Ghanaian than they were. Like I have always been saying this tournament gave Ghana a kind of publicity which diplomatic lobbying and democracy could not buy for us. It has united Ghanaians more than ever before. For the first time in many years political parties in the country have decided to disband their activities to rally behind a united country for a common cause. Professor John Evans Attah Mills of the National Democratic Congress has come openly to say that this party would stop all high profile political activities during the period of the tournament. Ghana?s ability to host this tournament successful would boost our confident level. It would inspire us to bid other world tournaments like FIFA Under 17, 21 or even Olympics in the some years to come.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STATE

The tournament has caused Ghana to get two new stadia with Kumasi and Accra been raised to international standards. It has taken Ghana 2008 tournament to get world class stadia like that ones we have in Tamale and Sekondi. This can also tell the government of President Kufour and any subsequent government that all the other regional capitals like Ho, Koforidua, Sunyani, Cape Coast, Wa and Bolgatanga can also get a world class stadium when the political will is there. Kumasi City Hotel which for many years became like white elephant has now been put to good shape. Good roads and better infrastructures have now been put up in places which lacked them. After the tournament all the hotels and hostels facilities built on the University of Development Studies (UDS) campus would become the property of the UDS. What a blessing of sports to nation. Sports to some extent have brought development to some parts of the country.

TOURISM ASPECT OF THE TOURNAMENT

Just last week it came to light that the MTN African Cup of Nation would inject over US $ 1 billion into the economy. Tourism sites in the country have registered all people visiting the places. We could have generated more for this industry if we had made adequate preparation in the area of tourism.

BIDDING FOR TOURNAMENTS IN THE FUTURE

Sports bring development both physical and infrastructure. In 1997 a year after USA had hosted the 1996 Olympics games (Atlanta 1996), America was bidding for the next Olympics (proposed city name: Salt Lake City, Utah). I think some people would label the America ambition of hosting the next Olympics on their soil as selfish. I think America saw the significance of hosting another Olympics in their soil. It brings a challenge to a nation to upgrade their facilities in anticipation of people coming all over the world. It increases the economic activity of a nation. It creates employment. Moreover, the knock off effect of such an event is great. Event like Olympics or World Cup is great such that it brings about infrastructure development to nation.

South Africa would soon host 2010 FIFA World Cup. Preparation for the tournament has catalysed infrastructural development in the country which ordinarily would have taken generations to achieve if it had not been the tournament. Creation of dual carriages, improvement of air and rail transport in South Africa is all as a result of the tournament. It has created millions of employment for the people in South Africa.

For now we have tested our confidence level. We can now dream about of bidding for other tournaments in the coming years. However, we should not be repeating the mistakes we made in our preparations for the Ghana 2008. Life is lived forward but understood backwards. This tournament is good time for the country to revamp our rail industry which has almost collapsed.

Ghana needs to develop. We started our journey many years ago. We need good roads, better and safer and reliable transport services. We should not only allow ourselves to wait for events to come before we start doing things for the people. Even the good things that we have been able to put for the tournament we should learn how to keep and sustain it. For it is not the issue of going to the top but remaining at the top is essential. We should not allow our achievements to rot. There is more room for improvement. Ghana 2008. Congratulations.

By Appiah Kusi Adomako (Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, Kumasi)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.