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Ghana Seeks To Build On Sports For Industry

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The global sports industry is increasingly reflecting the trends in the world economy, with a growing shift towards emerging markets.

The football world cups of 2010 and 2014 are being held in South Africa and Brazil respectively, and the 2016 Olympics is being staged in Rio.

The success of South Africa has given hope to other countries in the continent looking to host international sports events as a way of boosting their economies and progressing with major infrastructure projects.

This month, Nigeria is hosting the Fifa U-17 World Cup, with Dr Emmanuel Igbinosa of the nation’s sport commission saying that such sporting events can help “encourage inward investment into developing nations”.

Now fellow west African nation Ghana is also hoping to use the sports industry to kick-start its economy.

Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo was recently appointed Ghana’s minister of youth and sports. His policies are a mix of encouraging grass-roots sport, opening new facilities and hosting major events.

As a former boxer, he believes in the transformational power of sport and speaks passionately about what an expanded sports industry can do for Ghana.

Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, sports minister of Ghana

“What is important to us, as a people, is the opportunity to use the power of sport to deliver lasting economic, social and health benefits to our  citizenry,” he says, speaking to Tidesports source at a Global Sports Industry forum.

“We are looking to secure competition events and increase tourist inflows and business revenues to our cities and the country.

“It means sport can influence the national development agenda, with major events bringing long-term benefits and legacies, including city and country branding.”

Sport can also boost the fledgling corporate hospitality and sponsorship industries in the country, he believes.

Mr Pelpuo says it is the responsibility of the government to provide a basic sports infrastructure, but that it also needs investment, from inside and outside the country, to allow the sports industry to reach its full potential.

“We need to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to develop, and for their entrepreneurial spirit and investment initiatives in the sports industry,” he says.

“ There will be a need to balance the needs of our communities with the interests and ambitions of our private sector “

Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, sports minister of Ghana

And at the centrepiece of his development plan is creating a new sports bill to allow for this public-private partnership.

Ghana is looking to bid for the rights to host the 2015 All-Africa games, knowing that it will cover 22 disciplines. If it succeeds, it hopes to develop modern infrastructure for sports such as basketball, volleyball, track and field, swimming and cycling.

“We want to position sports event bidding at the centre of our agenda to bring economic prosperity to our nation and cities,” the minister declares.

“But we appreciate that as we attract more events into the country and increase vibrancy in our sports industry, there will be a need to balance the needs of our communities with the interests and ambitions of our private sector, all within the context of our market economy.”

As part of this broader remit, Mr Pelpuo wants to use sport not only for economic and business reasons, but also for talent identification, skills development, social cohesion and fighting poverty.

As part of this drive, Ghanaian sports people such as Chelsea footballer Michael Essien, are being drafted in as mentors to the country’s youth.

Michael Essien grew up in Ghana’s capital, Accra, where he played for his local club Liberty Professionals. He has revisited the country with charity Right to Play since his move to London.

“Michael has been fantastic for us. We want to tap into the iconic status of sports heroes like him to help us reach out and fight poverty,” observes Mr Pelpuo.

After the 26th African Cup of Nations, held in 2008 in Ghana, the country’s central bank took a look at the economic effect of the tournament on the economy. The results were encouraging.

As a result, a study group has been set up to advise on bidding to host the 2015 All-African Games, which could provide some confidence to an economy which has experienced recent difficulties.

Earlier this year, Ghana learned it was to get a $600m three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), amid concerns about the impact of the recession on poorer countries.

The country needs funds to reduce its budget deficit and support its currency, after being hit by high food and fuel prices, an energy crisis and heavy spending in the run-up to last year’s elections.

But Ghana is the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer and Africa’s second-biggest gold exporter, and is also set to become the continent’s newest oil producer.

“We still have to impress on the rest of the world that Africa is safe and that business and investment opportunities should be followed up,” says Mr Pelpuo.

But he points to the wave of publicity surrounding Ghana’s recent success in the Fifa World U-20 Championships as an example of how sport can work wonders for a small country’s image.

“One of the great things about sport is that we can use it to sell Ghana overseas, and also use it as a driving force to do business with other countries.”

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World Cup 2022: Man Killed In Iran Celebrating Team’s Loss

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A man is reported to have been killed by security forces in northern Iran, as anti-government protesters publicly celebrated the national football team’s elimination from the World Cup.
Activists said Mehran Samak was shot in the head after he honked his car’s horn in Bandar Anzali on Tuesday night.
Videos from other cities showed crowds cheering and dancing in the streets.
Many Iranians refused to support their football team in Qatar, seeing it as a representation of the Islamic Republic.
State-affiliated media blamed hostile forces both inside and outside Iran for putting unfair pressure on the players following their 1-0 loss to the USA in the final group game.
The players did not sing the national anthem before their first game, a 6-2 defeat by England, in an apparent expression of solidarity with the protesters.
But they did sing at the Wales game, which they won 2-0, and at the politically-charged showdown against the USA.
Some protesters saw that as a betrayal of their cause even though there were reports that the team came under intense pressure from Iranian authorities.
The unrest started 10 weeks ago following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the strict rules requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab.
Authorities have responded to what they have portrayed as foreign-backed riots with a violent crackdown in which the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights says at least 448 people have been killed, including 60 children. More than 18,000 others are reported to have been arrested.

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Belgium Out Of W/Cup

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Belgium have been knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage as Croatia progressed at their expense with a goalless draw in Qatar.
Roberto Martinez’s side, who finished third in Russia four years ago and are ranked second in the world, have had a disappointing tournament with just one win and one goal in their three matches
They produced another lacklustre display against Croatia despite knowing victory was necessary to progress to the last 16.
Substitute Romelu Lukaku had numerous chances in the second half but his failure to convert any sealed his country’s fate.
Lukaku, searching for sharpness following injury, hit the post from in front of goal, poked an effort wide when well-placed and reacted too slowly when the ball hit him in the six-yard box in stoppage time.
Croatia, finalists in 2018, got the point they needed to progress from Group F as runners-up, with Morocco taking top spot thanks to a 2-1 win against Canada.
Zlatko Dalic’s side will face the winners of Group E , which is currently Spain, in the last 16.
Belgium players fell to the turf at full-time as their supporters behind the goal politely applauded them off the pitch.
Lukaku, who replaced Dries Mertens at half-time, came into the game with intent and immediately brought energy and purpose to his side.
But his missed opportunities in the second half proved costly, with each one bringing an audible collective groan from the stands and the on-loan Inter Milan striker punched the dugout in frustration after the final whistle.
Croatia were not especially convincing, their most threatening moment was a first-half penalty award being ruled out by VAR because of an offside infringement in the build-up – but did enough to secure progression.
They did however look a level below what they showed to reach the final in Russia four years ago and their celebrations were fairly subdued after scraping through.

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Germany Crash Out Of World Cup Despite 4-2 Defeat Of Costa Rica

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Germany crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage for the second time in succession despite a 4-2 win against Costa Rica on Thursday.
The four-time World Cup winners came into the match needing a win but were also relying on the result of Japan’s game with Spain to progress.
But the Germans were eliminated due to goal difference as Japan followed up their defeat of Germany with another shock result by beating Spain 2-1.
Germany took an early lead but briefly fell behind in the second half as coach Hansi Flick made a flurry of changes, reacting to the live score of the Japan v Spain fixture.
The Germans started positively, with Flick’s all-Bayern Munich front line turning the screws early, battering the Costa Rica defence before Serge Gnabry got his head to a curling cross from Leipzig defender David Raum after 10 minutes to open the scoring.
Midfielder Leon Goretzka almost doubled Germany’s lead just five minutes later but his header was directly at Keylor Navas.
Complacency began to creep into Germany’s game. Keysher Fuller, Costa Rica’s goal-scoring hero in a 1-0 win against Japan, forced Manuel Neuer into a fingertip save after some half-hearted defending from Raum and Antonio Ruediger.
Flick moved Kimmich back to his familiar defensive midfield position at half-time, bringing on Lukas Klostermann at the expense of Goretzka, who like Kimmich started the match on a yellow.
Just seven minutes into the second half, word crept around the vast Lusail Stadium that Japan had scored two quick goals to take the lead against Spain, a result which would force Germany out of the tournament.
Flick reacted immediately, bringing on Niclas Fuellkrug and taking off another midfielder in Ilkay Gundogan.
Germany appeared disjointed as Costa Rica went on the counter on the 58-minute mark, the ball rebounding off Neuer and into the path of Yeltsin Tejeda, who slammed it home.
Flick continued to chase the game, making more changes but it was Costa Rica who scored next when Juan Pablo Vargas tapped a free kick past Neuer to put his side past Spain and into the Round of 16. The goal was later recorded as an own goal.
Germany hit back minutes later through Chelsea forward Kai Havertz to draw level.
Havertz scored again in the 86th minute and Fuellkrug added another in the 89th minute to bring the score to 4-2, but the side’s focus remained nervously fixed on the group’s parallel fixture.
The night ended with Germany losing out to second-placed Spain on goal difference.
It means Germany, who had not missed out on the knockout stages of a World Cup for 80 years until the 2018 tournament in Russia, have been bundled out in the group stage for the second World Cup in a row.

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