Monday, 12 February 2018

Kumasi sports stadium for funeral and events proposal backfires

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Adnan Adams Mohammed

About a fortnight ago, the Ashanti regional director of the National Sports Authority (NSA) made a pronouncement to the effect that, the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi will no longer be used soley for sports activities on weekends - rather it would be rented out to events and funeral organizers, as well as keep-fit clubs.

This pronouncement sounded laudable and interesting to many business minded Ghanaians, since the events were going to attract more revenue for the Authority than the sports.

Over the past few years, Ghanaians patronage of sporting activities has gone down dramatically, adversely affecting revenue generation from gate fees or access fees.

Most of the national stadia are cash strapped leaving the facilities to rot away with no maintenance.

It was therefore seen by many as an innovative idea for the regional director to have proposed such initiative, as business development experts agree that it would be an additional source of revenue through facility management optimisation.

However, instead of the Management of the National Sports Authority to appreciate the innovative additional revenue generating idea, they are rather despising Mr. Joshua Mensah over making such proposal to the public.

NSA management’s decision was taken at an emergency management meeting at the head office in which Mr. Mensah, was summoned to explain to management in the presence of all the other Regional Directors, as to why he made such unauthorized pronouncements.

A release issued by the Authority noted that “Management agreed that he indeed erred and it was an administrative slip on his part and hence was cautioned in accordance with the NSA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)”.

According to the release “Mr Joshua Mensah was asked to follow administrative procedures, whenever he has suggestions and proposals to present to the Authority”.

The Authority further urged the general public to disregard the pronouncements made by the Regional Director and reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing and developing sports in the country saying “we would like to reiterate our commitment to the development of sports which is our core mandate”.

Mr. Joshua Mensah’s pronouncement  prompted the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Mr. Pius Enam Hadzide to summon him to Accra to explain why “he should not be sanctioned” for making public comments of such serious nature without authorization

Again, Mr. Joshua Mensah had received a lot of public backlash after the pronouncement.

But, Mr Joshua Mensah indicated to journalists that, it had become necessary to rent the stadium out for funerals and other social activities to enable them raise funds to maintain the fast-deteriorating facility.

“Let me be honest with you, no football match will be allowed at the Baba Yara stadium henceforth because we don’t make enough money from the matches to maintain the facility and so henceforth the stadium will be given out on Saturdays for only funerals and other social activities,” he said.

Mensah also revealed that, his decision had the backing from the Director General of the NSA, Robert Sarfo Mensah.

“Even my National director is happy with the decision I have taken here. If we are not careful, we will one day be met with news of the closure of the Stadium for the lack of proper maintenance”.

Following the public outcry the Director General of the NSA, Robert Sarfo Mensah, rejected the claims by his subordinate.

“Officially, the NSA has not taken any decision to ban football matches at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium. That is on record… no such decision has been made official so I call on all sports-loving Ghanaians and football lovers, the people who patronize our facilities on Saturdays, to disregard the directive. It is not official.”

This comes on the back of a report by Citi News’ Hafiz Tijani who reported that sections of the stadium have almost been turned into a dump site with broken seats and stained bathrooms combining to give the stadium a generally repulsive smell.

It is currently Ghana’s largest stadium with a seating capacity of 40,528.

However, its current state is one of a terribly maintained facility that lacks the capacity to be described as a standard sporting facility.

The stadium was originally built by the United African Company (UAC) in 1957, and inaugurated as a designated football pitch in 1959.

Its stands were constructed in 1971 before the entire stadium was rebuilt in 1977. In 2004 under President John Agyekum Kufuor, it was renamed after Kumasi-born footballer, Baba Yara.

The last major work on the facility was in 2008 ahead of Ghana’s hosting of the CAN 2008 tournament.

It had early been in the news that, the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex, a multi-purpose sports facility for the national teams, is now engulfed in filth, and has become an abode for reptiles including snakes.

Instead of grooming the next generation of sportsmen and women, the facility now has become a condemned piece of architecture good for refuse and reptiles.