The Chef du Mission of Team Ghana for the maiden Beach Games in Cape Verde believes the upcoming sports spectacle would offer Ghana a pathway to create and ignite a future sports tourism industry.
Yaw Ampofo Ankrah who is also head of Ghana Beach Soccer, has called on stakeholders especially the tourism, entertainment and media influencers to join forces with the sports industry to explore partnership possibilities.
“We must work together. I think we simply don’t like to take bold and calculated risks when it comes to merging brands and sharing ideas. It could be a fear factor or just an over-cautious approach which is holding us back as a potential sports tourism destination”.
Ampofo Ankrah revealed that sand-based sports continues to grow at an accelerated rate globally and Africa has not been left out. More importantly, he stresses the need to also focus on the business side of the equation.
”From our own little research so far, Ghana has over 300 potential beach soccer playing sites that can be transformed into arenas for multiple sports like those in Brazil, Portugal, Spain or even Egypt and Nigeria.
This presents an excellent opportunity to invest, learn and create new jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries. Our terrain, culture, festivals and entertainment preferences make this merger much easier than most European countries yet we are here waiting for them to take the lead”.
According to the former BBC and Supersport reporter, Ghana has no excuse but to excel in sand-based sports if the right attention is given to the emerging industry. Meanwhile, Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Madagascar are considered leading beach soccer nations on the continent with FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup appearances under their belt.
However, Ghana has also broken into the top ten rankings of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) with more expected from the West African state. Yaw Ampofo Ankrah is quick to point out that SAL 2019 is not just about beach soccer because Ghana beach soccer must earn a spot.
“Actually, Ghana sports as a whole has been given an opportunity to put its name back on the laurels map when the island of Cape Verde welcomes the African continent in June. This means beach volleyball, beach handball, beach basketball, rowing and new water-based sports also have a chance to win medals”.
Dubbed SAL 2019, the games would be the first of its kind anywhere in the world and Africa is the proud host continent with several countries expected to participate. According to the press officer for team Ghana, Baaba Tandoh, a final list of athletes along with the confirmed disciplines has been submitted to the Local Organising Committee.
Sports tourism is high on the list of priorities for the hosts as Cape Verde intends to launch its multi-million dollars international tourism campaign using sports as a key attraction. The GOC has had a series of meetings with the heads of the various sports disciplines to put in place a strategic preparation schedule and sponsorship drive for the Games.