GFA, NSA prepare for football behind close doors

Author: Bernard Neequaye
The GFA leadership , the government's COVID-19 team and other stakeholders in sports after their deliberation last Thursday
The GFA leadership , the government's COVID-19 team and other stakeholders in sports after their deliberation last Thursday

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has given strong indications that the Ghana Premier League and other competitions can return when the government eases restrictions on social gatherings and the ban on sporting events in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 15 all sporting events have been suspended and there have been discussions over whether or not certain sporting events like the football leagues could return, and in which form, such that it would not put participants and fans at the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

Last Thursday the leadership of the FA and members of its medical committee met with the government’s COVID-19 management team, and other key stakeholders in sports to deliberate on the best possible environment for sporting events to take place, with the World Health Organisation indicating the pandemic is likely to remain for a much longer period.

The Graphic Sports understands that at last Thursday’s meeting the Kurt Okraku-led FA presented a proposal on how best football can return within a safe environment, taking into consideration all necessary health protocols. In its proposal, the head of the GFA’s Medical Committee, Dr Adams Baba, reportedly explained the need to organise football competitions without spectators in the interim until the health crisis normalised.

The proposal, the Graphic Sports learnt, included the various health measures the FA and the National Sports Authority (NSA) intended to roll out in order for football to return when the restrictions are lifted by government.

The General Secretary of the GFA, Prosper Harrison Addo, who was part of the meeting, explained to the Graphic Sports that the FA was considering various options available on the future of its competitions, including how football could live with the coronavirus in the long term.

Briefing the Graphic Sports on the meeting, the Director General of the NSA, Prof. Peter Twumasi, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Minister of Youth and Sports, noted that his outfit was bent on ensuring the strict implementation of all safety protocols at the stadia should clearance be given by the government for sporting activities to return.

He added that Premier League clubs would be expected to have a six-week training regimen ahead of the resumption in order to put them in shape.

“We had fruitful discussions during the meeting which I chaired and I can tell you that we expect something positive from the government.
“The GFA proposed for the resumption of the league behind close doors and that is something we are all looking forward to,” Prof. Twumasi noted.

The Presidential team on COVID-19 was led by Prof. Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, the Presidential Coordinator for the government's Coronavirus Response Programme,  and included Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service.

The aim of the meeting was to solicit ideas, suggestions and steps being taken by the leadership of the sporting fraternity in order to ensure a safe environment for all when the restrictions placed on sporting activities are eased or lifted.

At the meeting, the president of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), Mr Ben Nunoo Mensah, presented a proposal advocating  the easing of restrictions on sporting activities in order to allow athletes and coaches to resume their training schedules.

According to the NSA, the GOC’s concerns were that training sessions devoid of crowding could be done whilst observing all the protocols needed to stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The GOC was also present to make a case for athletes and coaches to be allowed to resume training since their duties are devoid of crowds,” the NSA boss said.