Ghana’s girls’s seashore volleyball group will make a debut on the Commonwealth Video games in opposition to Canada on Saturday, however its journey to the occasion has been removed from straightforward.
Just some weeks earlier than the group left for Birmingham, the aura on the coaching centre on the Laboma Seaside Resort in Accra was devoid of enthusiasm, coupled with the uncertainty of what would possibly ensue on the video games and sparse help from the federal government.
For a group making ready for its first main occasion, the temper was one in all despondency, primarily as a result of its stipend by the federal government for the camp had but to reach.
This was not the primary time the group had obtained a monetary blow. Because of this, motivation was low, with the scorching summer season solar including to the woes.
The “real love for the sport” and dedication to make it in opposition to all odds had been the explanations behind their perseverance for 3 months with out funds from the federal government, the group members informed Al Jazeera.
Ranked 104th on the earth, Ghana have been drawn in Pool A alongside Canada, gold medallists on the inaugural seashore volleyball occasion on the 2018 Commonwealth Video games, Kenya and New Zealand.
The group had booked its place on the occasion after a hard-fought battle with one of the best from the continent.
Juliana Otcherewaa and Rashaka Katadat fought bravely to seal the group’s place on the occasion, getting the higher of stiff opponents like Nigeria, Seychelles, Kenya and Mauritius.
“The qualification wasn’t straightforward however we did it with dedication,” Otcherewaa mentioned. “I informed my associate that we’ve sacrificed lots for this extent so we have to give it our all and do one of the best.”
Even having the ability to qualify for the Commonwealth Video games shocked Katadat.
“We didn’t count on to win this [the qualifying tournament],” Katadat informed Al Jazeera.
“These feelings had been primarily as a result of the preparations for the qualifiers had been abysmal. There was no help, no sponsors, nothing. Not even transportation fare however we noticed it from the attitude that we had been doing it for ourselves so whether or not help got here in or not, we proceeded.”
— Ghana Sports activities Historical past (@GSportsHistory) March 29, 2022
Otcherewaa started her volleyball journey in 2014 after senior highschool within the japanese area of Ghana. Aged 15, she joined the La Pioneers Volleyball Membership, an indoor volleyball group located in Labadi, a coastal city in Accra, the place she educated to realize expertise.
Her transition to seashore volleyball occurred by likelihood.
In 2014, she went to the seashore to coach by herself and the nationwide seashore volleyball group occurred to be coaching there too, sparking an curiosity in Otcherewaa.
She hung across the coaching, amassing balls for the group. Later, the group’s head coach Seidu Ajanako requested her if she needed to take up seashore volleyball, a proposal she took up immediately.
“They confirmed me the fundamentals of the sport and the remainder is historical past,” she mentioned.
For Katadat, indoor volleyball was her past love after she developed an curiosity within the sport in school. Born in Ejura within the Ashanti Area, Katadat grew up eager to be a lawyer. Whereas she was lively in volleyball as a highschool pupil, her mother and father weren’t too supportive initially.
“Taking part in sports activities didn’t sit proper with my mother and father. They at all times mentioned I used to be a girl so enjoying sports activities shouldn’t be a part of my plans and that folks would discuss,” Katadat informed Al Jazeera.
However a sterling present in opposition to TI Amass Senior Excessive College whereas representing Highlanders Volley Membership made the opponents take discover and provide her a scholarship to play for his or her group.
It was then her mother and father eased as much as her love for the game.
“I began making my title in Kumasi as one of the best volleyball participant within the area so it acquired to a time my father simply stopped and allowed me to play.”
After highschool, Katadat had to decide on between a college sports activities scholarship or becoming a member of the military as an indoor volleyball participant.
She was at a significant crossroads that might decide the trajectory of her life.
“I finally selected the military as a result of the varsity can be there ceaselessly however the military received’t.”
Otcherewaa, in the meantime, was drafted by the Ghana Police Service and now represents the Police volleyball group within the Accra Volleyball League.
Monetary woes persist
Whereas the women’ careers progressed easily on the courtroom, lack of economic help remained a hindrance.
In January this yr, Ghana Volleyball Affiliation (GVA) submitted an official finances for the qualifying event to the Nationwide Sports activities Authority (NSA).
Ghana had been chosen to host the event in March after it was postponed in December 2021 resulting from COVID-19 journey restrictions.
GVA normal secretary Alhassan Sumani informed Al Jazeera that after no help got here, the organisation determined to bear the price of the event and funded the women as nicely.
Nonetheless, after successful the event and qualifying for the Commonwealth Video games, the gamers thought their destiny would take a flip for the higher.
However issues didn’t change in any respect, they mentioned, including that they cowl the coaching prices with their salaries.
“Proper now, I take advantage of the cash I get as a police personnel [officer] for my coaching,” Otcherewaa mentioned.
“We’re used to this lack of help,” Katadata mentioned. “Ghana is all about soccer and there aren’t any sponsors for different sports activities. This can be a large downside as a result of lots of people are giving up.”
The group supervisor of the nationwide group, Bawa Iddrisu, echoed the issues over the dearth of economic help for the gamers.
“For a youth championship going down in Benin final February, the cash the sports activities ministry gave us was solely sufficient to board a bus from Accra to the situation,” he informed Al Jazeera. “If it was as much as us, we’ll take the group to each event, however the monetary help isn’t there.”
Spend a bit your time and be part of group Ghana seashore volleyball as we come a cross the nice Canadian seashore volleyball group on Saturday 2:00pm
— Moro Mumuni (@moro_mumuni5) July 28, 2022
Coach Moro Mumuni recalled an occasion the place the ladies’s group was uncared for.
“The group performed zonal qualifiers in Ghana and certified for the continental finals in Morocco,” Mumuni mentioned.
The continental cup was a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“The sports activities ministry later informed us they’ll solely present cash for the boys’s group.”
The Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) had little to say concerning the difficulty.
Commonwealth Video games’ Chef de Mission and member of the GOC, Fred Achie, informed Al Jazeera that the opposite certified nationwide groups had been additionally dealing with the problem of funding.
“The truth that cash hasn’t been launched for the athletes doesn’t imply they need to cease coaching,” Achie mentioned. “The GOC doesn’t deal with funds from the ministry. We’re merely facilitators of budgets for the athletes and even with that, the Worldwide Video games Committee handles that as nicely.”
On the problem of funding, he acknowledged that the federal government will work on it on the acceptable time however revealed no date for that.
However the PRO for the sports activities ministry, Kenneth Annan, mentioned it was unfair to pin all of the blame on the ministry.
“The ministry doesn’t rely simply on the federal government for funding however the cash simply isn’t sufficient,” Annan mentioned, including that personal company our bodies additionally present funds to assist preserve them afloat.
The ministry receives a quarterly stipend from the federal government however, in line with Annan, it has not been launched for the reason that begin of the yr, leaving athletes fending for themselves.
“I’m not talking from a defeatist perspective however we can not reap what we haven’t sown,” George Tetteh, GVA vp, informed Al Jazeera.
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