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Herbert Mensah

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Herbert Amponsah Mensah is a Ghanaian businessman, sports administrator and the president of the Ghana Rugby Association (GRA) operating as the Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU).

He is an alumnus of Achimota Secondary School in Accra, Ghana, although he completed his O levels in the UK and later obtained his graduate degree in economics at Sussex University.

In his younger years, he played rugby for Sussex and Saracens.He entered the business world while still a student and gained business experience, among other places, in the tobacco industry in Zimbabwe. His entrepreneurship led to his pursuit of success in the telecommunications industry.

In the early nineties, he identified cellphones as a boom industry and went on to become the biggest mobile handset distributor in sub-Saharan Africa, outside South Africa,where he led the market in distributing Motorola, Sony, Ericsson, and Nokia. By 2007, he had established a level-3 Motorola and Nokia-certified mobile phone and repair center in Accra.

In 1994, he identified the opportunity of South African pay-tv broadcaster M-Net and helped to spread this service to the rest of Africa. In 1995, he represented the BBC in Ghana and became the liaison with media and government regarding all aspects of radio, programming, marketing, and PR. He later became the country manager for satellite-TV service MultiChoice to Ghana.

In 1996 Herbert Mensah fixed the Land Rover rugby discovery tour of West Africa that included Ghana and Ivory Coast. The rugby tour was sponsored by Land Rover and meant to raise charity funds for Max Brito, an Ivorian rugby national team player who got paralyzed during a 1995 rugby union World Cup game in South Africa between Ivory Coast and Tonga.

The tour was dubbed 'The last amateur tour'. the idea of the tour was originated in 1995 during the rugby World Cup by an England rugby union footballer Harvey Thorneycroft who led a group of amateur English rugby union footballers growing to become professionals and they collaborated with the South African Rugby team, for this tour to west Africa to play in Ghana and Ivory Coast and teach little kids in those countries the basics of the rugby game whiles raising funds to support Max Brito.

Though the idea was brilliant, the tour team needed a man on the ground in West Africa who had the wherewithal to fix the practical difficulties in organizing such a tour in West Africa. When he was contacted, Herbert Mensah facilitated travel arrangements for all the players from England and South Africa.

Mensah also got Ghanaian international footballers playing in the English league at the time such as Tony Yeboah and others involved to raise massive local interest in the charity games. He also got local sponsorship including from the 5-star Labardi beach hotel involved in hosting the Max Brito tour. Other sponsors included airline companies operating in Ghana.

Mensah, a former rugby union footballer himself guaranteed payment in case of damage or financial loss and accepted the risk for liability arising from such guarantee to the tour team, according to Harvey Thorneycroft. With strong connection to President Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana in 1996, Mensah gained official recognition and participation for the 1996 rugby discovery tour in Ghana with President Rawlings attending and ordering military aircraft displays over the Accra stadium during the charity games which also involved soccer games with the national team the black stars.

Whiles in Ghana, Herbert Mensah got the touring rugby union footballers into the ''get into Ghanaian hospitality'' tour where the players applied themselves to teaching little Ghanaian kids how to play rugby football. The last amateur tour was the first and last of its kind in world rugby history.He was appointed board chairman of the popular Ghanaian football club Kumasi Asante Kotoko SC by the then Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, in 1999.

Mensah set out to restore the success of earlier glories of the then failing club by implementing a five-year plan, which included sponsorships, the introduction of professional training facilities, and a transparent financial approach to the books. He left Kotoko in 2003 and later became involved in running a rival club in the Ashanti area, Ash Gold. In December 2004, Kotoko was runner-up in the African Cup Winners’ Cup and went on to achieve more success in the years that followed.

A well-known sports journalist in Ghana, Kwabena Yeboah, described Herbert Mensah as "the greatest leader he has ever met at the Porcupine Warriors" due to his endeavors on and off the field. Mensah has been credited with making a major contribution to changing the face of Ghanaian profession football. By 2004,he had established the SOS (Strategic Outsourcing Solutions) network.

It provided management services to football and continues to be a link between grass-roots sport and the professional world.In 2007, he teamed up with Prosport International to nurture players with exceptional talents. Prior to his appointment as President of Ghana Rugby, Mensah was appointed to the executive of the Greater Accra Rugby Association (GARA) in May 2014.

At the occasion, he stressed the importance to build infrastructure to motivate the youth and to grow the game of rugby in Ghana. On assuming office, his first priority was to order an assessment of the state of rugby in Ghana by his Board Members. He travelled to Dublin to meet with officials of World Rugby to seek guidance on the development of Rugby in Ghana.

The meeting was followed up with a meeting, also in Dublin, with the Rugby Africa Development Manager. He also met with various stakeholders including regional associations, clubs, players and the business community.

On Friday, 29 August 2014, Mensah convened a Ghana Rugby Stakeholder Forum in Accra, where the Ghana Rugby Blueprint was presented. He also arranged training sessions for both coaches and referees to improve the quality of the sport in Ghana.

The coaches' training conducted by Mr. David Dobela of South Africa was described as a historical event for Ghana Rugby as it was the first time in 11 years that coaches were trained on both Level 1 and Level 2 for rugby union and Sevens coaching. Based on his consultations with both World Rugby and Rugby Africa, Mensah realized that a stumbling block in the way of Ghana Rugby to become a full member of World Rugby was the successful completion of a successfully run local league by at least ten clubs. He immediately mobilized his resources, and planned and completed the first professionally run Ghana Rugby Club Championship (GRCC).

One of Mensah's major challenges as president of Ghana Rugby remains funding the sport and he has initiated various activities including a raffle ticket drive. He also managed to get corporates such as Accra Brewery,Interplast Ghana, Vodafone Ghana and Zen Petroleum involved in supporting Ghana Rugby.

In collaboration with the Vodafone Ghana management team he staged a management motivational event using the values and principles of rugby to help Vodafone prepare its management for year ahead. He has challenged the Government of Ghana on more than one occasion about support promised to minority sports such as rugby that has never been delivered.

He remains a vocal critic of other government failures well beyond the realm of sport. After the 2015/16 Ghana Rugby Club Championship, Mensah, in the absence of a National Technical Director, appointed a four-man technical squad under his guidance to prepare the Ghana national men's sevens team for its Africa Rugby international commitment. The technical team consisting of Messrs.

Simba Mangena (Head Coach of Conquerors SC), Clement Dennis (Player / Coach of Griffons RFC), Amuzuloh Salim (Head Coach of Cosmos Buffaloes RFC) and Dan Hoppe (Idas Sports RFC) put the squad of 25 players through a rigorous training programme that ended in April 2016. This was followed by Phase II of the preparation that started early May when a reduced squad of 16 players started camping in Accra. The final squad of 12 players who competed in the Africa Rugby "Africa Cup West" men's sevens tournament in Lomé, Togo on 28 May 2016 consisted of: Dan Hoppe (Idas Sports RFC), Clement Dennis (Griffons RFC), Sani Alhassan (Captain)(Cosmos Buffaloes RFC), Alex Dorpenyo (Conquerors SC), Seidu Razak (Conquerors SC), Solomon Akumba (Cosmos Buffaloes RFC), Michael Acquaye (Conquerors SC), Calestus Bosoka (Conquerors SC), Emmanuel Kalos (Conquerors SC), Joseph Mensah (Griffons RFC), Erick Acquah (Griffons RFC) and Nasiru Aminu (Conquerors SC). The Ghana Eagles, as the Ghana national Rugby team is known, managed to lift the Bronze or Third Place cup after it was ranked as number one based on the Pool results.