I have monitored with fascination reactions to the Bawumia campaign naming football icon, Asamoah Gyan as the chair of the Youth and Sports desk of his Election 2024 Manifesto Committee. The committee’s task is “to produce a comprehensive manifesto document to “address... socio-economic challenges of Ghanaians.”
Many welcome Asamoah Gyan’s presence in the Bawumia camp believing that he will make useful contributions to the NPP manifesto in youth and sports. Others think he would only be used and dumped when they have no use for him.
Ghanaians who have meaningful inputs to make in the governance of the country must do so when they are invited, thus, I see nothing wrong with Gyan’s choice. However, there are bigger issues. First, Gyan, from the football stock, must go into the manifesto meetings with a sports-oriented mindset not with football bias.
Ghana needs a broader, scientific approach to sports development. That requires more than bringing on ex-footballers to manifesto committees. The thinking must be beyond football. Our emphasis on football is not bad but even with that, we have not done the right things to fully realise our football potential.
This goes not just to the Bawumia team but also to the John Mahama campaign: sports is as important as other sectors of the economy. Let your manifesto committees delve deep into issues affecting sports development in Ghana and proffer proper solutions. For instance, sports financing is as critical as providing and keeping infrastructure well.
Training or development of sports personnel; coaches, athletes, administrators, etc. are imperative. There are governance, accountability, and integrity problems in our sports. The political parties must look at these problems and produce workable solutions.
They should employ the expertise of people with a wider appreciation of sports administration today and fashion out manifestoes they will commit their government to, not lip service should they win power. The parties must decide what they want to do with Ghana sports, how they want to do it, and where they want to take it. They must show it and the sports media must interrogate what they put out in their manifestoes.
The last manifestos of both NPP and NDC gave nothing substantial on sports. That of election 2024 must be different if they both mean serious business. Ghana must be better in sports development, measurable by standards that will not be seen through political lenses but by international best practices.
Manifestoes critics do not put a premium on those documents because after winning power, the documents are abandoned by the politicians, yet the media must hold them to their word. Some of us will wait and see what the manifestoes will capture on sports and examine whether they tackle the issues on the ground or not.