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THE CONTROVERSY: TEAM GHANA; MERE PARTICIPANTS OR A FORCE TO RECKON WITH IN THE AFRICAN GAMES IN RABAT, MORROCO.

The African Games will commence on 19th August to 31st August 2019, the 12th edition of the African games will be hosted in Rabat, Morocco, which is anticipated to be one of the best games the continent will witness. With 54 Nations destined to  battle out for gold, silver and bronze medals in 301 events, thus, 26 sports, will be one of the exciting games in Rabat.
The African Games, which used to be called the 'All African Games' is a continental multi-sport event held every 4 years, it is owned by the African Union and jointly organized with the Association of  National Olympic Committees of Africa, (ANOCA) and the African Sports Confederation (AASC).
The African Games is a major contributor to the development of Olympics and tends to be a platform for African Athletes to exhibit their innate talents. African Union (AU) being the owners of the Games, the Pan-African Multi -disciplinary sport event participated by all AU Member States presents a unique platform for the commission to promote key AU development messages, especially in line with the AU theme of the year on Migration. The prestigious continental event will be participated by more than 6,000 athletes in 26 sports disciplines of which 17 qualifies Athletes to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020.
The Government of Ghana through the  Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) and the National Sports Authority (NSA) approved a budget of approximately $1.28m for team Ghana to participate in the African Games. The budget covers all the expenses for Team Ghana which has being made known to Ghanaians. Is it a good sign as Ghanaians lamented over the budget for the Black Stars which was not disclosed prior to AFCON 2019? Or is it a calculated attempt to throttle the efforts of the Athletes participating for Ghana? As the Sports Minister asserted that, divulging the budget for a competition tends to bring a lot of issues and seeming tension to the National teams, thus, holding on to the budget for tournaments is pertinent to wade off pressure from Ghanaians. What changed this time ?
The Budget includes bonuses for all the athletes, coaches and officials, with an amount of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000  going to athletes who will win Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively in the individual sports and in the various disciplines. Again, $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000  for gold, silver and bronze respectively for team sports. Team Ghana will present 14 disciplines, 91 Athletes, 29 coaches and 19 officials, making a total of 139 contingents.
Comparatively, the price money and the number of disciplines Ghana presented  in the 2015  All African Games hosted by Congo Brazzaville seems to be better than the 2019 Team. Ghana participated in 16 out of 17 events and won 19 medals in 2015. In the 2011 All African Games, Ghana won yet another 19 medals but participated in 16 events. With the 14 disciplines that Ghana is set to participate in, can the athletes amass more than 19 medals for Ghana which seems to be the glass ceiling in the previous two competitions ?
This is how the number of Athletes for Team Ghana  in the various disciplines are set to look like, Boxing -10, Badminton - 4, Table Tennis - 6, Tennis - 6,  Fencing - 4, Beach Volleyball-2, Weightlifting - 5, Karate-Do - 5, Taekwondo - 5, Judo -5, Cycling- 2, Swimming - 3, Field and Track - 16, Football - 18.

In football, the Black Meteors won gold in 2011 and the Black Queens won gold in 2015. Unfortunately, the new qualification rules prevented the Black Queens from participating in the Women's Football  in the 2019 African Games to defend their title. Further changes has been made to replace the U23 Teams with U20 Teams in the African Games. Based on the wonderful performances  by Ghana in the 2011 and 2015  African games in football, the onus lies on the Black Satellites to once again bring back a gold medal to Ghana. Did the Black Satellites receive the needed preps for the Tournament? Can Coach Yaw  Preko's 18 man squad be effective in the football discipline? Can he display his philosophy of ball possession, operating through the flanks and speed game in the coming African Games?

Hor Halutie, Ghana's next sprint Queen?

In Athletics,  Flings Owusu Agyapong, Persis Williams Mensah, Gemima Acheampong and Hor Halutie is set to make the track their own in the 100m/ 4x 100m. The 20 year old, Hor Halutie, born in the Upper West Region of Ghana, is seen as one of the brightest spots for Team Ghana after qualifying to the finals of the 100m in the Commonwealth Games and finished 8th. Sean Sarfo Antwi, Ben Azamari, Edwin Gadayi, Joseph Paul Amoah , Martin Owusu Antwi , Jeff Hammond and Abubakar Mohammed  are set to represent Ghana on track and field in the men's competition.

As Ghana is set to host the African Games in 2023, the 2019 Games should be the stage where Ghana should learn much from, from all the sports disciplines to the level of infrastructure to be used in Rabat and the ambiance that will be created to make the 2023 African Games an exceptional one. With these few disciplines Ghana is set to participate in, will it give the right exposure to athletes in the subsequent Games to be hosted in Ghana? How well did the Ministry invest into the various athletes for better preps for the upcoming tournament? How many medals are we expecting as a nation in the 12th African games as we present a lean team of medal hopefuls? 

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