Towards 1st Biannual Sports Congress, 2019, setting new Agenda for Ghana

By Magnus RexDanquah

ONE of the key functions of the National Sports Authority (NSA) under the SPORTS ACT, 2016 (Act 934) in achieving its objects, is “the organisation of biannual sports congress to review sports development for the period and map out strategies for sports development for the future”.

This Act, gazetted on 16th December, 2016, has officially laid to rest the Sports Act, 1976 (SMCD 54), which had hitherto influenced and directed the development, promotion and growth of sports in Ghana over the last four decades.

However, the cry for a change in direction, as well as a greaterfocus on global trends, in establishing sport business as a thriving industry for the nation, especially then on the eve of the ‘Y2K’ phenomenon saw the inauguration of the JOE AGGREY COMMITTEE to fashion new strategies towards addressingthe depth of sports malaise confronting our nation.

The 11-member Committee chaired by the then Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Joe Aggrey, a renowned sportswriter,consisted of representations from the then National Sports Council, Ghana Football Association (GFA), Ghana Education Service (GES), Security Services Sports Association (SSESA), Ghana Universities Sports Association (GUSA), Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS), National Sports College, Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG), Physical Education Association of Ghana (PEAG), and the Women-In-Sports Association of Ghana (co-opted).

This committee was directed as follows:-

  1. To review the then existing National Sports Bill to make it more relevant for the promotion and development of sports in Ghana;
  2. To critically examine the level of sports infrastructure and equipment in the country and find ways of improving on them;
  3. To examine the existing level and scope of manpower in the National Sports Council and advise the Minister accordingly;
  4. To determine Ghana’s participation in international games in the short term, medium term and long term;
  5. To examine the sources of funding sports in the country and make recommendations to enhance sponsorships; and
  6. To deal with any issues which in the opinion of the Committee are incidental to sports promotion and development in the country.

The Committee thereafter set up five (5) sub-committees based on its terms of reference as:-

  1. The National Sports Bill;
  2. The Sources of Funding;
  3. The Infrastructure & Equipment Needs;
  4. The Manpower Requirements; and
  5. The International Games Participation.

The Joe Aggrey Committee submitted its Report to the then Minister of Youth and Sports, the late Hon. Osei Kwaku and former MP for Asokwa in 2002. In all my 40 years of involvement in sports development and promotion in Ghana, that, in my estimation, is about the best document to deal with the holistic attempt at addressing the same issues that have bedevilled our Sports from the early days of our nationhood.

Trust me, I have participated in all manners of Committees since the promulgation of the Sports Act (SMCD 54, 1976) in the attempt to pass a new Sports Act till the final passage of the Sports Act, 2016 (Act 934).

Inasmuch as various stakeholders still have issues with this Act, including myself, for varied reasons, the best foot forwardis to attempt to start working with this law for what it sought to achieve for Ghana Sports.

One unique feature of the Sports Act 2016 is the absence of any provisions that seek to influence the formation and administration of national, regional and district sports federations and associations as well as sports clubs. Except that,the Act solely deals with the NATIONAL SPORTS AUTHORITY (NSA) to provide for the development, promotion and management of sports and related matters.

This is grounded on the 1992 Constitution, which grants the right of association as a fundamental right,to every group of Ghanaians for whatever interest, business and commonality.

However, the Act defines the extent of operational relationship that shall exist between the National Sports Authority on one side and all bodies, including federations, associations and clubs as well as individuals on the other in the pursuance of its mandate.

In order to achieve its objects, the Sports Authority is expected, inter alia, to facilitate the organisation of national games; providefinancial and other assistance to a team or person for the purpose of enabling that team or person to represent the Republic in international competitions in or outside the Republic; and to ensure the development, establishment and management of public sporting facilities in the country.

The National Sports Authority is also required to encourage private sector participation in the development and management of sports facilities in the country; provide assistance to sporting associations that the Authority considers necessary; promote, encourage and secure the adoption of policies of gender equity, equal opportunity and access to sports, child protection in sports and drug-free sports; and undertake research and development related to sports.

The other aspect of the functions of the National Sports Authority is for those areas that they haveto collaborate with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure or regulate such tasks as the provision of necessary facilities required for building national teams; the provision of funds for the purpose of managing national teams; the submission of proposals on matters relating to the development and maintenance of national teams; transparency and accountability in the development and management of national teams; and to ensure that all moneys received by way of sponsorship, gifts and any other benefits for national teams are properly accounted for.

I have, for the purposes of emphasis, highlighted portions of the functions of the National Sports Authority above, so as to lay to rest some of the lingering points of litigations that have been bedevilling our sports landscape for the past decades, such as the management of national teams; rights and responsibilities of the Ministry, the Sports Authority, and or the Federations or Associations; especially as they relate to transparency and accountability of funds available to the managers of the national teams; and particularly concerning sponsorship, gifts and any other benefits for the national teams.

Some of the highlights also have been to draw attention to the financial relationship between the Authority, Clubs, Associations and Federations: the key word is ‘ASSISTANCE’, where it deals with the act of assisting; help; aid; and support; and not to provide or fund wholly the annual budget of a club, association and or federation.

Even where the proposed National Sport Fund becomes operational, it will still be on the basis of ‘complementary’ fund to Federation or Association.

I made the point earlier that this Act does not spell out the administrative or operational structures for any Federation or Association as these lie in the ‘armpit’ of the international federations and or the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the affiliated National Olympic Committee.

It is for these reasons that the independence of the Federations and or Associations are guaranteed in their relationships with the Sports Authority to the extent that they register with the Authority of formation and maintain an annual status of good standing through the payment of licences or registration fees with the submission of annual audited accounts.

Once these audited accounts are submitted to the Sports Authority, it provides the opportunity to compile a composite Audited Accounts of all the recognised federations and associations of good standing; and with the audited accounts of the Authority itself, present same to the BIANNUAL SPORTS CONGRESS as stipulated under Act 934, 2016. Indeed, such a composite audited accounts of all sports disciplines as well as the Authority shall provide the Ministry with a fundamental document that would be used to assess sports contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and thereby position sports as a major player in the economy of the nation, particularly if we are also able to determine the number employed both formally and informally and incorporate same in the composite.

The biannual sports congress, under this Act, shall review sports development for the period and map out strategies for sports development for the future, including our participation as well as performances at various international games as the African Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. It will also provide us, as a people and a nation, a platform to set targets which could be evaluated at such fora – before and after such games.

I deem this portion of the Sports Authority’s functions critical to the new way of developing and managing sports in the country; and why I urge the Ministry and the Sports Authority to organise the maiden biannual sports congress next year, 2019 – a full year before the 2020 Olympic Games.

This will also provide the Ministry with the opportunity to meet with all federations of good standing to discuss policy directions and the ministry’s vision for sports for the next two years. I believe, it will also be necessary to invite other key stakeholders like the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the Ministries of Finance, Local Government, Tourism (for sports tourism) and Employment, as well as the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).

This, definitely, will set a whole new agenda for Ghana Sports and set the tone for the enabling environment towards establishing it as an emerging industry.

*The writer is a Sport Business Consultant & then consultant to the Joe Aggrey Committee

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