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BEHIND THE VEIL – Inter Regional Sports Festival (Field Hockey)

By Wiseman Ayettey

Students at inter regional level training without shoes and guards as they face rivals who are fully geared up.

The 2017 inter regional sports competition , hockey boys and girls came to an end on the 21st August 2017 with Ashanti region taking gold in boys and girls division beating Central Region in both categories. The tournament hosted at the University of Cape Coast and St. Augustine’s College hockey field, recorded mass spectator turnout especially the grand finale. This was evident that the game of hockey had not died out completely as people still had interest in the game. The way forward?
All ten regions across the nation Ghana were represented in both divisions with the exception of Northern Region in the boys category.

Regional breakdown

The notable regions in Ghana with regards to hockey (Central, Eastern, Western, Ashanti and Greater Accra) were once again tipped to emerge winners in both categories.  Greater Accra holds its hockey league annually for youth, ladies, men and masters. This over the years has been giving the boys and girls in that region an advantage over the others. The national hockey pitch is also located in this region. Vehemently, that fate is on the edge of dying out. One thing which needs to be pointed out clearly is that the regional hockey associations should not be just responsible for organizing leagues and tournaments within the region but also have a responsibility of developing hockey in the second cycle schools in the region. Greater Accra Hockey Association must sit up on that feat and make the various development hubs work within the region. Ashanti region and the Central Region Hockey Association needs to be commended on this regard.

Ashanti Region has its own hockey league played annually and the T-Tommy hockey tournament held every July.Research has proven that, they pride in preparing their second cycle institutions in their various events held and make them up to the task in the regional games. They boast of some hockey fields in the second cycle institutions which serve as a boost to youth and adults with interest in hockey. The Central region holds the afahye, aboakyer hockey tournament and the recently introduced Boys and Girls Hockey Splash which is a development hub for the region. Individuals in the Eastern and Western region have also invested in hockey for years and this has resulted in lots of talents joining the various national hockey teams from these regions.
The Volta, Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions on the other hand have not really had a fair share of the cake.

At the just ended competition, players from these regions gave a good account of themselves. They exhibited passion and willingness to learn when given the needed tutoring. Four out of the eight individual isports360 awards namely most promising for both boys and girls as well as best goalkeeper in both division were given to players from these less privileged regions. These were players who took less than a month to learn and prepare for the competition and majority of them first timers.

Most of these regions never had the opportunity to train and camp for long. Unlike the southern zonal regions except Volta region, players from the northern sector were new to the game hockey. Most of them had not seen a hockey ball prior to their regional camp. The Upper East region hockey team had twelve juvenile sticks (quiksticks) available for both male and female with their friends from Upper West boasting of thirteen hockey juvinile sticks. The Northern region presented a female hockey team, leaving their male team in tamale with reasons of financial constraints. The female team presented was from a single school that is St. Francis De Asisi. The Volta and Brong Ahafo regions also had issues within. These regions had a common plea of equipments being costly and scarce. A region which had over fifty Senior High Schools couldn’t afford sticks and equipments to train the boys and girls who were ready and passionate to learn. With their little knowledge on hockey and its equipment, they came into the competition and made a good name for themselves. The Volta region in particular produced a stellar performance throughout placing fourth in the boys division with their ladies also doing well in their category. The Upper West, upper east and Northern regions played to the shock of many who filled the pitch as they showed moments of brilliance though they lacked individual talents and skill. This was no fault of theirs as they had limited resources to train.

The general performance of players individually was exceptional. As usual, players from the Central, Ashanti, Eastern, Western and Greater Accra region gave spectators something to cheer about with fine display of skill and talent. This was as a result of their involvement in the major tournaments and leagues in their regions. Besides, it could be identified that regions like the Central, Ashanti and the Eastern had invested in their own accord to improve their performances. Some regions have had some people in their schools on concessionary basis and had gone the extra mile to acquire some scanty equipment to aid their progress. Players from Volta , Northern, Upper West, Upper East and Bring Ahafo region also made good accounts of themselves with good display. These were players who were taught the game within few weeks to the competition backed with few days of camping. One could see the zeal and passion from the players and also improvement in game play as tournament progressed.

Although this was an inter regional competition for High Schools, lovers of hockey packed the University of capecoast hockey pitch to watch these young talents. The turnout was massive and this sent a message across that the game of hockey still lingers in the minds and hearts of the Ghanaian society.
Officiating in general was not impressive indicating the need to train more umpires and officials for the game. An incident in the boys final almost ruined the entire tournament as the umpires for the game were accused of being partial by the locals of capecoast who came to the pitch to rally behind their boys who were up against Ashanti region. A disallowed goal by an umpire brought the entire capecoast populace unto the pitch and this was clear that hockey is still alive in Ghana. Even though the players from the northern part did well, one could see their lack of knowledge in the game and this could be associated with the coaches level of understanding.

The boys and girls are willing to learn the game of hockey. A game that has been monopolized by certain parts of the country and interviews with their coaches expressed the willingness of the youth in their respective regions to learn and play the game if and only if they are provided with the necessary equipment. In the northern parts, one could clearly note that, they could have been unbeaten if they were abreast with the rules and certain basic skills in game.

In numerous interviews with coaches of all the teams, the common anthem sang was ‘we need equipment’. The Ghana Hockey Association can help make this a reality. The over dependence on players from the notable regions can be minimized if the game is spread across the nation. The competition was going to take place without hockey when ISPORTS360 in collaboration with Mr. Richmond Attipoe(Bank of Ghana), Mr. Patrick Smith-Assan(Bank of Ghana), Mr. James Mason (Ghana Revenue Authority), Madam Ramatu Osmanu (Ghana Prisons Service), Mr. Kester Ajao (Bank of Ghana) and Mr. Isaac Moses (Ghana Revenue Authority) intervened to sponsor. This could have been a huge blow to these young talents. Has it gotten to this stage where we prioritize certain disciplines over others.

The game has not died out. The people still crave for hockey. The youth want to learn.
What went wrong? Who is not working? Where are the equipment?
1.Let’s train umpires.
2.Set up courses for coaches and send them to these places to teach and train these young ones. Its quite arguable that the TAP West Africa Program has been limited to a few in the nation, weighing the quantum of loopholes in the development of the game in especially the North.
3. Make equipment available to the various regions and see to it that they are released to the institutions for training.

Students at inter regional level training without shoes and guards as they face arc rivals who are fully geared up

A critical look should be given to how equipment granted the association are disbursed across the nation. It will not be worth making a few very powerful.

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