Junior Black Sticks angry over neglect by ministry

Hockey News of Monday, 5 August 2013 Source: Daily Graphic Players of the national U-21 female hockey team were incensed by a ‘cushioning’ $200 dollars each hurriedly mobilised from Accra by the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA) and sent to the Junior Black Sticks ahead of their final placement match against Russia yesterday at the 7th Junior World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany, describing it as an insult.The stop-gap measure provided by the GHA was to help players purchase few things they would need with the hope that on their return to Accra on Wednesday, government would have released their per diems and other allowances.But the agitated players said it was the second time they were being mistreated after a similar incident last February in South Africa during the World League Series when players had to virtually return home empty-handed because government had reneged on its promise.The Youth and Sports Ministry failed to release a budgeted $138,000 for the trip, compelling officials to look for temporary measure for the players to feature in their maiden World Cup tournament for fear of being sanctioned.And since their arrival at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Monchengladbach till date, the leader of delegation, Vivian Dougblor, has had to secure almost every basic need for the team on credit following Ghana’s goodwill with the International Hockey Federation (FIH).The Vice-president of the association, Richard Akpokavi, stayed back in Ghana to pursue the release of funds to the girls, most of whom appear frustrated.But the team manager, Ramatu Osmanu, and the assistant coach, Emmanuel Abban, spent the night last Saturday cajoling the girls and assuring them that their money would be given to them.Both players and their technical handlers have not received a dime for months in preparing for the tournament.Despite a false start at the tournament, the Junior Black Sticks made progress by drawing 1-1 with Belgium in the penultimate placement match last Saturday only to lose 4-5 on penalty strokes.The players have been applauded by officials of the FIH for their ‘massive improvement’ from last week while recommending that Ghana needed more international friendly matches to expose the girls.