All is set for the re-election of Prof. Francis Dodoo, as President of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) at today’s Congress.
He is the only candidate who ahead of the congress, has outlined a vision called the “C3S vision for the GOC Presidency”.
It focuses on continued fundraising, Collaborating with Government, Completing the OlympAfrica Project, and Supporting national federations.
Under his administration, Ghana sports, has enjoyed unprecedented support provided to over 20 national sports federations through Olympic Solidarity organised programmes and other funding support attracted by the GOC.
“Over the last few years, we’ve increasingly managed to step up to fill in the funding gap that arose from Government’s declining ability to support the lesser-funded sports, and through this we have focused on equity in distribution of our support, and in reversing the formerly declining number of Olympic qualifiers” Prof. Dodoo said.
In 2004 and 2008, Ghana’s contingents to the Olympics comprised athletes in the single digits; in 2016, 16 athletes represented Ghana in Rio, all of whom were first-timers with bright futures ahead.
Ghana sports has gone through trying times since late 2012, with limited or no funding from the state to what are sometimes referred to as the “lesser-known” sporting disciplines. He lamented, for instance, that since August 2012, his own sport of Athletics has received a grand total of only Ghc10,000 from the National Sports Authority.
With the sudden decline of government funding that caught everyone off-guard beginning in the latter half of 2012, the GOC has had to step up its efforts to support federations even so they could participate in qualifying competitions for the London 2012 Olympics, 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, 2014 Africa Youth Games, 2015 All Africa Games and the recent Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the GOC supported about 10 national teams (Weightlifting, Volleyball, Taekwondo, Swimming, Cycling, Athletics, Fencing, Boxing, Badminton and Table Tennis) to participate in qualifiers.
“With Government funding dried up, we have had to stay really focused and not get distracted by all the dissonance,” Prof. Dodoo said. “We continued to concentrate on distributing resources equitably among federations. In that regard, federations that have not yet had the opportunity to receive support for coaching and related seminars, should rest assured that our process of systematic allocations means that their number will be called soon.”
So far, working through Olympic Solidarity, the GOC has organised 17 training programmes for administrators, coaches and journalists from 2012 to 2016. The list includes a first of its kind 3-month Coaching Structure Course organised by the GOC for the Ghana Weightlifting Association in 2014. Federations that benefited from training programmes included: Ghana Weightlifting Association, Ghana Table Tennis Association, the Badminton Association of Ghana, Ghana Volleyball Association, Ghana Taekwondo Association, Ghana Cycling Association, Ghana Rugby Association, Ghana Athletics Association, Ghana Basketball Association, and the Ghana National Sports for All Association.
In 2016, the GOC also put up the first IOC Athlete Career Programme, organised in conjunction with the Ghana Olympians Association; this programme helped athletes to consider the future and initiate preparations for life after sports. There have also been 4 Sports Administrators Workshops held.
Again, with regard to equity, the GOC awarded 12 Olympic scholarships to Ghanaian athletes to prepare and qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. These were distributed to athletes from five sports when, hitherto, Ghanaian athletes had never benefited from more than 3 or 4 scholarships in any Olympic cycle, and those had generally all gone to athletics. According to Dodoo, “even as President of Athletics, I thought it was imperative that we ensure that other sports that had Olympic potentials also get access to preparation scholarships, and I was proud that we were able to secure up to a dozen.”
Another set of 4 scholarships worth $50,000 were awarded to athletes ahead of the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing 2014, and the beneficiaries came from three federations: swimming (Kwaku Addo and Ophelia Swayne), badminton (Abraham Ayittey), and weightlifting (Juliana Arko).
Beyond funding solicited from IOC, Olympic Solidarity, and ANOCA, Prof. Dodoo’s administration has been able to raise funds from the domestic private and public sectors to support travel and preparation towards major Games. Most recently, in conjunction with the Minister of Sports, a number of private and public agencies provided the funding to make Team Ghana’s trip to Rio 2016 feasible. The largest sponsorships came from the GOC’s headline sponsor for Rio 2016, Cocoa from Ghana ($171,580), while GNPC paid for the airfares ($120,000).
After demonstrating Ghana’s relevance at international meetings, Prof Dodoo has been appointed onto the bodies of three commissions/committees. He is a member of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s Governance and Integrity Committee, as well as the IAAF’s Values Commission; he also just rotated of a term on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athletes Commission.
His international influence has begun to pay off as evidenced by his successful nomination of GOC Secretary-General Richard Akpokavie on to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
Plans for the Future:
On his plans for the future, if re-elected, Prof. Dodoo will focus mainly on consolidating the recent funding streams the GOC has been able to secure, so as to ensure sustainable funding for Ghana sports going forward. The current GOC has inked an agreement with a sponsor, who asks not to be identified until the launch of their sponsorship, to provide support for Tokyo 2020 preparation beginning as early as 2017. In just the first year of this sponsorship, 1.5 million Euros has been guaranteed to fund the initiation of preparations towards Tokyo.
Similarly, a Korean Consortium has signed a deal to enable them invest $10m into a lottery that will support the “lesser financed” sports.
Prof Dodoo is committed to collaborating with Government to also develop funding streams to build, maintain and rehabilitate sporting infrastructure around the country. The GOC has proposed a very limited tax on three products—alcohol, tobacco, and soft drinks—to close the infrastructure gap.
An opportunity to fund the 2023 All-Africa Games will also mean enhancement of the sporting infrastructure stock, and conversations with the new Government have already began.
Resumption of OlympAfrica Project
The current GOC inherited the abandoned OlympAfrica project in Amasaman; the imposing walls that betray the abandoned project actually led to the OlympAfrica project director’s decision to stop funding. Upon taking office, Prof Dodoo and his team tried unsuccessfully to bring OlympAfrica back to the table; the position of the sponsors was that Ghana would either have to sell the non-conforming structures that had been built and purchase new land elsewhere, and then invest up to the amount OlympAfrica had provided so far, before they would be willing to come back and help complete it. They were adamant about their position because Ghana had apparently contravened the agreed-upon rules.
Over the last couple of years, trading on his international stature and leaning on his skills in diplomacy, Prof Dodoo and his team have been able to coax OlympAfrica to roll back their initially non-negotiable posture. As a consequence, there should be a resumption of construction shortly.
The former African Games gold medalist (and still record holder from 1987) looks forward eagerly to be able to develop sustainable funding support for the national federations and sports. Ghana’s sportswomen and men need exposure via outside competitions, and we have to work with them to find the funding for this.
Dodoo was Ghana’s sportsman of the year in 1987 and received the honour of being awarded the Grand Medal during the Presidential Awards in 2006.