2023 African Games: Chef de Mission confident Ghana will win more than 30 medals

Chef de Mission is confident that the team will win “more than 30 medals” in the 2023 Africa Games,to be held in Ghana

Chef de Mission, Ernest Danso, discusses Ghana’s readiness for the African Games, winning bonuses for athletes, and the selection of athletes.

Chef de Mission is confident that the team will win “more than 30 medals” in the 2023 Africa Games, to be held in Ghana.

The African Games start from 8 to 23 March 2024 with 23 competitive sporting events lined up for the competition. 8 of these events—athletics, table tennis, tennis, triathlon, swimming, cycling, wrestling and badminton—will double as qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Since 2007 in Algeria, Ghana has not finished the games with more than 25 medals at the event: 17 (2011), 19 (2015) and 13 (2019).

Speaking on Team Talk on Asaase 99.5, Danso was not emphatic on the number of medals the team has targeted but was confident Ghana will be among the best on the medal table.

“The wish is to host and win. But I strongly believe that the medals will be more.”

“I can’t mention numbers, but I’m definitely sure the numbers will be way, way more than whatever we’ve had in the past. It should be more than even 30.”- Ernest Danso, Chef de Mission, said.

Some disciplines began camping in Cape Coast on 19 January, just 37 days before the start of the games.
When asked if the athletes can live up to expectations with the short-term preparations, he replied: “I believe so, I totally believe that they can.”

Medal winners to receive bonuses

Ernest further revealed that podium finishers will receive winning bonuses per medal with the amount yet to be determined.

“We are in discussions with the sports ministry to have a finality on that to know exactly how much we are paying. I’m fighting for the best for them.”

“I really want it to be of international standard; I even want to pay them better than whatever has been paid in the past. So we are still in talks, apart from the per diems that have been paid with a normal standard.

“We’re looking at the winning bonuses as well as, per medal, if it’s gold or bronze-whichever price so before we conclude, it will be announced to the media, and Ghanaians.”

Psychological preparations

Ernest also stressed the importance of preparing the athletes mentally for the games. He revealed that four psychologists are with the team to condition the athletes with therapy sessions, fitness tests, and medical for the games.

“I think for me, the most important thing is not too much of the physical thing that we do as athletes or sportsmen. The psychological aspect is what I always emphasise in my campaign because the best place for the best athletes in this world, is not just going to compete; it’s how prepared they are psychologically.

“We have our four psychologists inside the camp who are actually taking the athletes through all these therapy sessions and everything. So it’s key that we condition these athletes very well. We’ve done a lot of fitness testing, to be sure that these athletes are actually fit to train. The initial plan was to get coaches who are well endowed with all this knowledge in handling athletes. But nonetheless, we have these fitness coaches who are in camp who are actually taking them through this process.”

He continued, “We have a whole medical team in place, we have physiotherapists on site as well who are also doing their part. They are eating three times daily, and they are fed well. They have enough water to dehydrate them because of all these weather conditions that we have now.”

“So it’s not 100% But at least I think we’ve put in some effort that is actually to motivate these athletes—we’ve been able to pay per diem. For the first time, they had full per diems, and a reasonable amount was paid to the athletes.”

Favouritism in team selections

There are concerns that the selection of athletes to represent the country in the various disciplines are not on fair ground, perhaps due to a lack of trial games at the federations.

When asked about that, Ernest admitted that there is favouritism in the selection of athletes to compete for Ghana.

“I think we’ve done our best. But I can’t say it’s the best. I always believe that there’s this element of favouritism and other things out there. So we’ve tried our best to make sure we fished out a few.

“Personally, as a human being, as a Chef de Mission, I think it is what it is, but it’s possible for us to put up mechanisms to deal with it—it’s a fight that we have to take up. I’ll write a report after this whole African game.

“Some of these things, I think, if going forward, we don’t look at and watch carefully, will always be a problem for sports in Ghana.”

Reporting by Princeton Wiredu in Accra

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