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After Ivory Coast’s thrilling AFCON 2023 can Ghana’s Africa Games shape up?


As the Africa Games 2023 descends on Accra with the promise of showcasing world-class athletes, many will be asking whether a new golden age of African sports has finally arrived. To make that a “yes” Ghana will need to compete with one of the most successful events in African sports history – the recently completed 2023 African Cup of Nations.

SPECIAL REPORT | BIRD AGENCY | After the eventful, action-filled AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast that concluded last month, West Africa is now hosting another sporting extravaganza, as Ghana hosts the 13th edition of the Africa Games. This promises a month packed with athleticism, passion, and continental unity, with surge in the number of participating countries.

The pan-African multi-sport event, organized under the African Union’s Sports Commission, is held every four years. This edition will be hosted in multiple stadiums in Accra and is the first time Ghana has hosted the event since the inaugural edition, held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) in 1965.

Over the years, the popularity and impact of the event has grown significantly. From just ten disciplines in 1965, the 2023 edition will have 30, and see the participation of 5,000 athletes, 3,000 officials, and 2,000 volunteers from 54 African countries.

Some disciplines will make their debuts at the event, including squash, cricket, arm wrestling, and rugby, underscoring the multiplicity of sporting disciplines in Africa.

Notably, seven games will be included in the event as demonstration events, showcasing emerging trends in the continent’s sports space. These include esports, mixed martial arts, speedball, pickleball, scrabble, teqball, and sambo.

The inclusion of Esports is fueled by the growing urge to integrate technology into sports. Nigeria recently unveiled the electronic Professional Football League (eNPFL), a testament to the growing momentum in this sector.

Themed “Experience the African Dream,” the competition also serves as an Olympic qualifying tournament. The games in Accra will, for many countries, determine which teams and individuals earn tickets for the 2024 Summer Olympics to be held in Paris, France in July this year.

Olympic qualifier games include weightlifting, volleyball, taekwondo, rugby, judo, Karate-Do, hockey, handball, football, cricket, chess, boxing, beach volleyball, basketball, and arm wrestling.

To outperform the recent Afcon spectacle, the Africa Games will not only need to be widely viewed on television across the continent, it will also need to ignite the passion and imagination of thousands of Africa’s sports bloggers and social media influencers – both on and off the continent. The wide variety of disciplines, the attendance of top athletes, the proximity to the Olympics and accessibility via streaming will all assist with that.

Beyond the games and on-field impact, the competition is expected to have a significant legacy on the country’s sports ecosystem, especially with the upgrade and establishment of sports infrastructure such as stadiums and sports complexes.

According to the event’s website, more than 18 venues, including the newly-built Borteyman Sports Complex, the University of Ghana, and the Trust Sports Emporium, among others, will be used for the event.

Notably, the Borteyman Sports Complex, a state-of-the-art facility boasting unique features such as a 1000-seater capacity swimming pool designed with a 10-lane swimming space alongside other facilities, will play a critical role in developing indoor sports in the country beyond this upcoming competition.

In a recent press conference, Ghana’s Minister for Youth and Sports revealed plans to convert the Borteyman Sports Complex into a University of Sports Development, ensuring it serves the development of sports in the country for years to come.

Sports fans can either attend the various sports events live or follow them virtually. Ticket prices range between GH¢50 and GH¢500 (some US$4 to US$40) and can be purchased at various entry points or online.

The hosting of the games in Ghana is also expected to boost the local economy across sectors such as tourism and hospitality. Last year, Kustom Looks, a Ghanaian garment manufacturer, unveiled branded tracksuits for Ghanaian teams. Similar economic impacts are expected in other sectors.

GTV Sports Plus, a Ghanaian sports media company, is the official broadcaster of this sporting event. Fans outside Accra can follow the events virtually on GTV platforms and on the event’s official website.


SOURCE: Bonface Orucho, bird story agency



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