Ghana’s ladies’s seaside volleyball crew will make a debut on the Commonwealth Video games towards Canada on Saturday, however its journey to the occasion has been removed from straightforward.
Only a few weeks earlier than the crew left for Birmingham, the aura on the coaching centre on the Laboma Seashore Resort in Accra was devoid of enthusiasm, coupled with the uncertainty of what may ensue on the video games and sparse help from the federal government.
For a crew making ready for its first main occasion, the temper was one among 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 crew 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 willpower to make it towards all odds have been the explanations behind their perseverance for 3 months with out funds from the federal government, the crew members advised Al Jazeera.
Ranked 104th on this planet, Ghana have been drawn in Pool A alongside Canada, gold medallists on the inaugural seaside volleyball occasion on the 2018 Commonwealth Video games, Kenya and New Zealand.
The crew 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 crew’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 willpower,” Otcherewaa mentioned. “I advised my companion that we’ve sacrificed quite a bit 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 stunned Katadat.
“We didn’t count on to win this [the qualifying tournament],” Katadat advised Al Jazeera.
“These feelings have been primarily as a result of the preparations for the qualifiers have been abysmal. There was no help, no sponsors, nothing. Not even transportation fare however we noticed it from the attitude that we have 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 jap area of Ghana. Aged 15, she joined the La Pioneers Volleyball Membership, an indoor volleyball crew located in Labadi, a coastal city in Accra, the place she skilled to achieve expertise.
Her transition to seaside volleyball occurred by probability.
In 2014, she went to the seaside to coach by herself and the nationwide seaside volleyball crew occurred to be coaching there too, sparking an curiosity in Otcherewaa.
She hung across the coaching, accumulating balls for the crew. Later, the crew’s head coach Seidu Ajanako requested her if she wished to take up seaside volleyball, a proposal she took up immediately.
“They confirmed me the fundamentals of the sport and the remaining is historical past,” she mentioned.
For Katadat, indoor volleyball was her old flame after she developed an curiosity within the sport at college. Born in Ejura within the Ashanti Area, Katadat grew up desirous to be a lawyer. Whereas she was lively in volleyball as a highschool pupil, her dad and mom weren’t too supportive initially.
“Taking part in sports activities didn’t sit proper with my dad and mom. They all the time mentioned I used to be a girl so enjoying sports activities shouldn’t be a part of my plans and that individuals would discuss,” Katadat advised Al Jazeera.
However a sterling present towards TI Amass Senior Excessive Faculty whereas representing Highlanders Volley Membership made the opponents take discover and provide her a scholarship to play for his or her crew.
It was then her dad and mom eased as much as her love for the game.
“I began making my identify in Kumasi as one of the best volleyball participant within the area so it bought 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 ultimately selected the military as a result of the varsity shall be there eternally however the military gained’t.”
Otcherewaa, in the meantime, was drafted by the Ghana Police Service and now represents the Police volleyball crew 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 price range for the qualifying match to the Nationwide Sports activities Authority (NSA).
Ghana had been chosen to host the match in March after it was postponed in December 2021 as a consequence of COVID-19 journey restrictions.
GVA common secretary Alhassan Sumani advised Al Jazeera that after no help got here, the organisation determined to bear the price of the match and funded the women as effectively.
Nonetheless, after successful the match 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 are not any sponsors for different sports activities. This can be a huge drawback as a result of lots of people are giving up.”
The crew supervisor of the nationwide crew, Bawa Iddrisu, echoed the considerations over the shortage 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 advised Al Jazeera. “If it was as much as us, we’ll take the crew to each match, however the monetary help isn’t there.”
Spend slightly your time and be part of crew Ghana seaside volleyball as we come a cross the nice Canadian seaside volleyball crew on Saturday 2:00pm
— Moro Mumuni (@moro_mumuni5) July 28, 2022
Coach Moro Mumuni recalled an occasion the place the ladies’s crew was uncared for.
“The crew 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 advised us they will solely present cash for the boys’s crew.”
The Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) had little to say in regards to the concern.
Commonwealth Video games’ Chef de Mission and member of the GOC, Fred Achie, advised Al Jazeera that the opposite certified nationwide groups have 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 effectively.”
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 maintain them afloat.
The ministry receives a quarterly stipend from the federal government however, in response to 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’t reap what we haven’t sown,” George Tetteh, GVA vice chairman, advised Al Jazeera.