Global and Political dimensions in Ghana’s sport development
Ghana has carved out an important place in the world of sport over the past few years, particularly since the Black Stars’ impressive debut in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Having hosted the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations for football and the 2009 Africa Cup of Nations for field hockey, and then qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and winning the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt, Ghana has become a significant contributor to athletic performance on a global scale and in hosting capacities in Africa. The global and political dimensions of sport development in Ghana, however, have facilitated what I refer to as surface development, which is more concerned with an image of the country presented to the global stage than with sustainable effects. While surface development in sport, such as the construction of facilities, hosting of events and sponsoring of teams to attend international tournaments is highly important in a country’s sport development and should receive financial support, it is not the most critical factor as it cannot create sustainable change alone. The new, ultra-modern field hockey stadium that Ghana’s government built for the Africa Hockey Cup of Nations is a great accomplishment for sport in Africa, but the true challenge is how the stadium will be used in the future and how increased interest and participation in the sport will be harnessed. Sport in its many forms has immense potential to create personal and national development but when surface development receives the majority of funding and neglects areas like grassroots development of sport, sustainable growth cannot be achieved. A disconnect develops between the encouragement of youth to participate in sport and the desire for international success. This is the trend that seems to be unfolding in Ghana’s sport development.