This particular topic has been frustrating, due to the general passive nature of Africans and sports and the steadily, increasing gap in comparison to developed nations. However, I find it a fascinating subject to read about and a topic which has enormous potential to make an impact on the continent.
Through the process of researching and gaining detailed insight into solution-based ideas, I still feel that the bottom-up approach always has, and is, the only sustainable way to the progressive development of sports in Africa.
Let me walk you through my rationale………….
The top-down theory is a system which is based on the hierarchy structure, which emphasises decision making to be concluded at the top of the chain and processes from these decisions to be followed and implemented accordingly down the chain of command. The top-down theory holds assumptions that decisions concluded at the top of an organisation structure have a higher likelihood of achieving objectives. This eventually creates a trickle-down effect, making the required impact within the lower realms of an organisation or its vision possible. A prime example of this can be seen in the relationship between the Ghana Football Association (GFA), the Black Stars (National Football Team) and Ghana premier league. The GFA, in my opinion, seems to believe that the key to national development in football, stems from allocating the majority of its budget towards the Black Stars. (National Football Team) In the hope that performances in the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup will derive significant benefits such as international exposure and prize money. These added resources gained from progressing to the latter stages of competitions or winning would essentially create a trickle-down effect. The resulting prize money would then be allocated towards investment in grass root football programmes and ultimately help establish Ghana’s national football league.
However, I feel that this is a flawed system which needs to be revised if national sports in the country is going progress and witness a visible change in the sporting culture. For a clear example of the narrow-mindedness in Ghanaian sports, I will refer to the former Sports Minister, Nil Lante Vanderpuile. While he was in charge of The Ministry Of Youth And Sports (MOYS) in 2016, he found it unusual that even though the Black Stars managed to attract substantial sponsorship deals, they still simultaneously receiving a significant chunk of the funding meant for the entire ministry and other sports disciplines in the country. Now if this is not an outrage for all the other sporting disciplines in the nation then I don’t know what is!
The bottom-up theory is a system that I believe is the key to progressive development for sports in Ghana. The GFA and MOYS would in my view, gain a better return on investment and better serve the nation by looking closely at examples such as the African organisation “Wembley Sports Complex”, which is a privately owned sports recreational centre in Accra. The Wembley Sports Complex facilities is a multi-sports complex which includes an AstroTurf pitch for football, Table Tennis Courts, a Volleyball Court and Basketball Court.
With already four locations in Ghana, plans have been set to build 40 more facilities by the end of 2018 across the country. As a result of these centres, the immediate area can embrace the possibilities of local football tournaments, while it also gives local schools an option to utilise facilities for extracurricular activities, sports days and national sporting tournament. It is a business model I think these two institutions, (the GFA and MOYS) could use to support grassroots football and access to sports facilities for local schools and its immediate area.
Personally, I think that fundamental principles have to be rebuilt such as designated PE lessons, low-cost access to sports equipment, trained PE teachers, low-cost facilities, and regular local, regional and national games for all sports disciplines.
Over the next decade, the performance of elite Ghanaian athletes, the health of the citizens of the nation and the general importance of the sports industry within the African economy will be based on implementing policies, systems and infrastructures discovered from the bottom-up theory. This stems from headteachers, local and international NGOs utilising sports, to aspiring athletes, I believe the representation of all these parties will be critical for progression in sports development in Ghana.