How Ghana’s women beach volleyball team made it against all odds | Sports

Ghana’s ladies’s seaside volleyball staff will make a debut on the Commonwealth Video games in opposition to Canada on Saturday, however its journey to the occasion has been removed from straightforward.

Only a few weeks earlier than the staff left for Birmingham, the aura on the coaching centre on the Laboma Seaside Resort in Accra was devoid of enthusiasm, coupled with the uncertainty of what would possibly ensue on the video games and sparse help from the federal government.

For a staff making ready for its first main occasion, the temper was one in every of 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 staff had acquired a monetary blow. In consequence, motivation was low, with the scorching summer season solar including to the woes.

The “real love for the sport” and willpower to make it in opposition to all odds had been the explanations behind their perseverance for 3 months with out funds from the federal government, the staff 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 staff had booked its place on the occasion after a hard-fought battle with the most effective from the continent.

Juliana Otcherewaa and Rashaka Katadat fought bravely to seal the staff’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 associate that we’ve sacrificed loads for this extent so we have to give it our all and do the most effective.”

Even with the ability to qualify for the Commonwealth Video games shocked Katadat.

“We didn’t anticipate to win this [the qualifying tournament],” Katadat advised Al Jazeera.

“These feelings had been primarily as a result of the preparations for the qualifiers had been abysmal. There was no help, no sponsors, nothing. Not even transportation fare however we noticed it from the angle that we had been doing it for ourselves so whether or not help got here in or not, we proceeded.”

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 staff located in Labadi, a coastal city in Accra, the place she skilled to realize expertise.

Her transition to seaside volleyball occurred by likelihood.

In 2014, she went to the seaside to coach by herself and the nationwide seaside volleyball staff occurred to be coaching there too, sparking an curiosity in Otcherewaa.

She hung across the coaching, gathering balls for the staff. Later, the staff’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 past love after she developed an curiosity within the sport in school. Born in Ejura within the Ashanti Area, Katadat grew up eager to be a lawyer. Whereas she was energetic in volleyball as a highschool pupil, her mother and father weren’t too supportive initially.

“Enjoying sports activities didn’t sit proper with my mother and father. They all the time mentioned I used to be a lady so enjoying sports activities shouldn’t be a part of my plans and that individuals would speak,” Katadat advised Al Jazeera.

However a sterling present in opposition to TI Amass Senior Excessive College whereas representing Highlanders Volley Membership made the opponents take discover and provide her a scholarship to play for his or her staff.

It was then her mother and father eased as much as her love for the game.

“I began making my title in Kumasi as the most effective 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 will likely be there without end however the military received’t.”

Otcherewaa, in the meantime, was drafted by the Ghana Police Service and now represents the Police volleyball staff within the Accra Volleyball League.

Monetary woes persist

Whereas the ladies’ careers progressed easily on the court docket, lack of economic help remained a hindrance.

In January this 12 months, Ghana Volleyball Affiliation (GVA) submitted an official funds 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 resulting from COVID-19 journey restrictions.

GVA normal 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 ladies as properly.

Nevertheless, 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 exploit 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 downside as a result of lots of people are giving up.”

The staff supervisor of the nationwide staff, Bawa Iddrisu, echoed the considerations over the dearth 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 placement,” he advised Al Jazeera. “If it was as much as us, we’ll take the staff to each match, however the monetary help isn’t there.”

Coach Moro Mumuni recalled an occasion the place the ladies’s staff was uncared for.

“The staff 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’ll solely present cash for the boys’s staff.”

The Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) had little to say concerning the challenge.

Commonwealth Video games’ Chef de Mission and member of the GOC, Fred Achie, advised Al Jazeera that the opposite certified nationwide groups had been additionally going through the difficulty 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 properly.”

On the difficulty of funding, he said 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 non-public company our bodies additionally present funds to assist preserve them afloat.

The ministry receives a quarterly stipend from the federal government however, in line with Annan, it has not been launched for the reason that begin of the 12 months, leaving athletes fending for themselves.

“I’m not talking from a defeatist viewpoint however we can’t reap what we haven’t sown,” George Tetteh, GVA vp, advised Al Jazeera.

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