Soccer News of Sunday, 31 January 2016
This is nothing new. It’s an open secret that the state of the Accra Sports Stadium has been deteriorating. This worrying situation has been trumpeted by many radio stations, TV stations and other news portals.
Last Sunday, I went to the stadium to watch a friendly between Accra Hearts of Oak and Inter Allies and just at half time, I decided to go down to get some “khebab” with two other friends; Obiri Yeboah and Kojo Thompson.
Just when we stepped out of the press area to take the stairs close to the VIP, Obiri drew my attention to the rusty nature of the metals covering the VIP and the press area.
“Benedict this is terrible, look at the metals, so do we have people looking after this facility at all? Let’s hurry up and get down before the roof comes down,” Obiri said humorously.
Obiri’s comment cannot be taken with a pinch of salt because the thought of it generated more questions than I envisaged.
The first question which struck my mind was a visit my mates and I at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) made to the Accra stadium in May 2007 when renovation works by Michelleti, an Italian construction firm was nearing completion.
I was in a group of four (4) that had been tasked to write about the Accra stadium.We were in the company of a tour guide who was employed by the local organizing committee for the CAN 2008 tournament.
As a young man aspiring to become a sports journalist then, I was elated at the sight of the stadium. The pitch was green and in fantastic condition, complimented by the dressing rooms and washrooms.
I must admit, I would not have hesitated to have a meal in the washroom because the atmosphere was conducive and very hygienic.
Everything I saw that day was new and looked very nice.
Fast forward to eight years and after successfully hosting that tournament, the venue has deteriorated to the extent that I am not sure it will pass the new club licensing requirement by FIFA- BIG YES- that is how serious things have become at the Accra stadium.
The pitch in a very bad condition, the once desirable washrooms are in an appalling state –as a matter of fact, I don’t have the right word to describe the bad nature of the place- smelling with urine and the floodlights are simply not functioning.
Two high profiled matches, Stephen Appiah’s testimonial and the Mo Ibrahim Cup, have had to be ended abruptly because the matches could not travel late in the night due to floodlights.
The second question I lamented on was, “Do we even have people looking after this place?”
I knew the answer already: the National Sports Authority.
On countless occasions the NSA has explained why they are unable to ensure that the state of the stadium is not as it used to be in 2008.
Their song has been “there is no money from government to maintain the place.”
How long can we continue like this? EH! I’m sure if the stadium collapses today, we will find money to fix it.
Let us not wait for something to happen before we act, if you occupy a top position and this falls in your domain please do something before you die…….