An experienced military Judoka, flying officer Eleazar Dodoo, has called on the ministry of sports to support the lesser-known sports in the country so that athletes can excel in tournaments to lift the image of Ghana higher.
He said the other sports, apart from the popular sports in Ghana, had the potential of winning medals and bringing honour to Ghana at the international level but lack of support from the sports ministry had made it impossible for sportsmen and sportswomen to fully realise that potential.
Flying Officer Dodoo said to win at the international level, there was the need for sportsmen and sportswomen to play competitively in similar events to get the needed experience and exposure but unfortunately most of the athletes in Ghana are denied that opportunity due to the unavailability of the support required, even for national sportsmen and sportswomen.
In an interview with the Graphic Sports,Flying Officer Dodoo who last week won the Japan Ambassador’s judo championship, said that situation was discouraging more people to take to sport as most potential stars gave up due to lack of support.
He explained that for instance before an athlete could compete in judo at the Olympic Games, he had to compete consistently in the International Judo Federation tournaments to garner a certain number of points to qualify, that took a huge financial requirement which could only be possible with support from the government and sponsorship for the Ghanaian athlete but unfortunately that kind of support is non existent.
The Flying Officer said currently there were only two athletes abroad who represent Ghana in international judo championships currently, a situation he described as not being the best, stressing the need to have more national judoka stars to enhance the chances of the nation winning when they compete in international competitions.
He indicated that there were many equally good athletes but the lack of support to be able to undergo the basic training to hone their talent had kept them away.
“It is a real struggle to decide to take up the sports which thrive so well in other countries but considered ‘lesser known’ in Ghana. There are potential stars out there who need help to shine.
“As athletes, we want to give our best and do well but that alone is not enough as support and motivation is required. That has to be provided and when that is not forthcoming, it becomes difficult to achieve much.We all know that national teams are supported by the government for international events, and I believe we strongly need government’s help to develop the national athletes
“My appeal is for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to pay serious attention to our sport as it has the potential to win medals,” Judoka Dodoo opined.
The 2019 Japanese Ambassador’s judo championship champion said due to lack of support to prepare, he was unable to advance in the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and would now focus his attention on the 2024 Games.
He expressed optimism about the growing interest in the sport, indicating that the military and other security services had introduced some initiatives which would allow personnel to practice martial art as a means of protection and self defence in their line of duty.