With Kofi Owusu Aduonum
Ghana once again earned a place in the history of the game of hockey by raising the bar in her hosting of the continental club championship that ended in Accra last Saturday evening.
Ghana, despite receiving a late notice to host the competition, after prospective host countries had failed at the last moment, did not just fill the gap, but went the extra mile to make the event a memorable one.
Followers of the sport, and especially media practitioners who had covered the previous editions will bear with me that nothing compares to the just concluded edition.
Thanks to the trinity of high profile personalities like Mr. Oko Nikoi Dzani, President of the Ghana Hockey Association and his able lieutenants -Richard Akpokavi and Nii Quaye Kumah, who brought their rich experience to bear on the competition.
Never in the history of the competition has the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) members been clothed in an NDK branded uniform. Even the ball boys had their share of the red carpet treatment.
The LOC rolled out the red carpet from the day each of the visiting teams arrived in the country for the games. The visitors enjoyed a Police Motor escort from the Airport as well as a daily escort to and fro their hotels and the Hockey Stadium.
Spectatorship was phenomenal. Lovers of the game and the lay alike thronged the hockey stadium to catch a glimpse of the game. My association with the sport has revealed that competitions of such nature have been played in virtually empty stadia.
Supporters’ Union groups made a huge representation, particularly in the opening and closing ceremonies.
They made their presence felt with their cheer songs.
Indeed, those who had a negative perception about the fact that the game was dangerous because of the use of sticks should have repented by now, and should be great apostles to spread the good news of hockey.
Prior to the competition, many had complained that publicity for the competition was on a low key, but the situation changed for the better when the competition bullied off on December 9.
The Media joined the band wagon, spread the news far and wide, and the hockey fever caught up with the sporting populace.
The EOCO/GFA saga that led to the suspension of the local league was also a blessing in disguise for hockey. For once, all attention was shifted to hockey, hockey coaches, captains and officials received massive air time and space in the media.
The visiting coaches, teams as well as officials who participated, undoubtedly have left Ghana with a good impression as far as hosting the competition is concerned, and it will definitely serve as a landmark for future competitions.
In all, 11 teams participated in the ten-day competition. Sharkia won the male edition at the expense of Ghana’s Trustees for the 19th time, while Heartland of Nigeria defeated Ghana’s Extinguishers for the gold, in the female category.