Sports News of Tuesday, 17 February 2015
At a short, but colourful event, at the Accra offices of the AngloGold Ashanti on 21 July 2010, the hard-working and unassuming Chief Executive of Ghana Football Association, Mr Kwasi Nyanatakyi, honored AngloGold Ashanti for its contribution to the development of soccer and other sports in the country, and urged other corporate bodies and well-endowed citizens to emulate AngloGold Ashanti’s sterling example in working with the government to grow and develop the sports industry beyond just recreation.
On Monday, 16 February 2015, almost five years on, a similar event took place on the Obuasi mine when the Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, visited the operation to forge what he terms as a new Government- Private Sector Partnership to sustainably grow and develop sports as a major business sector in Ghana. The minister was full of commendation for AngloGold Ashanti for its outstanding contribution to sports development in Ghana given its mammoth investments in sports infrastructure in Ghana over the years. The FIFA standard Len Clay Sports Stadium, soccer academy and, of course, the premier league club, AshGold Soccer Club, are major investments none a scale no other corporate entity has ever made in Ghana to date. The Minister expressed great satisfaction with these sports assets, which he described collectively as a center of excellence, as well as the relationship between the company and its football team.
Compared to sports infrastructure in the relatively developed world, “the government alone cannot do it, so we need private sector participation to build the needed infrastructure so that we more effectively position ourselves to take advantage of the increasing opportunities in world of sports”. Mr Ayariga’ s key message was that for Ghana to compete effectively and successfully in the sports industry, the country had to develop its infrastructure and the AshGold soccer academy’s facilities could be leveraged in this regard.
“We have the young men and women throughout the country that we can train in competitive football, athletics, hockey, tennis and other areas but the lack of infrastructure means that we cannot train them properly hence we are not in position to take advantage of the multibillion dollar global sports industry”. Besides seeking private partnership, the Honorable Minister further indicated that his ministry had introduced Sport Lottery and Betting to raise money to support the new thinking.
In his earlier presentation to the minister, the Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi Mine, Mr Fred Attakumah, said that the company has been at the forefront of infrastructure development for the country’s sports sector over a number of decades. Apart from being the home of the company’s AshGold soccer Club, which is currently leading the premier league, Mr Attakumah recounted how the 20,000-capacity Len Clay Sports Stadium served as the venue for practically all of Ghana’s international matches while the Accra and Kumasi stadia were being refurbished in the run-up to CAN 2008. “AshGold Soccer Club, originally established to entertain and provide recreation for the company’s employees and communities, has now become a major force to reckon with in Ghana football and often has a good number of its players, or ex-players, featuring prominently in the national squad”, Mr Attakumah stated.
As part of its contribution to other sports, the company has further invested in squash courts, a cricket oval, tennis courts, three swimming pools and a golf course which are open to employees and the general public, especially school children in the municipality and beyond, the Managing Director said. He further stated that the company, given the national reach of its social investment activities, also paid $2million for the construction of 20 multisport facilities across the 10 regions of Ghana to help in sports development, especially in deprived and disadvantaged parts of the country.
Mr Attakumah commended the minister for the visit and indicated that the company was working towards a sustainable solution for the AshGold Soccer Club, and other sporting assets, as the Obuasi mine undergoes its major transformation project.
Contributing, Mr Kudjoe Fianoo, Chief Executive of AshGold SC said the facilities have been used for both local and international tournaments and that the minister should remember Obuasi when Ghana gets the opportunity to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations. He spoke about the role of the club in the municipality and the country as a whole and said the initiative of the minister would go a long way to uplift the social and economic development of the country’s youth if it is implemented.