When the topic of sports arises in Ghana, the first thing that comes to mind is football (soccer). But what if you were to be told that the first sporting activity that gave Ghana international recognition was field Hockey? Join us on this journey of historical tracing as we unearth the golden history of field Hockey in Ghana.
The beginnings of field hockey
The history of field hockey dates back to ancient human civilization, with crude forms of the sport proving a part of athletic activities of ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago and in Ethiopia around 1,000BC. An ancient form of the game was also played in Iran in around 2,000BC.
There has been evidence of a version of the game being played by the Romans, Greeks and the Aztecs hundreds of years before Christopher Columbus arrived on the shores of the new world.
History of hockey in Ghana
There are many origin stories surrounding the hockey sport in Ghana. However, the factual and documented beginnings of the sport began on Thursday, November 9, 1950 Gold Coast era, pre-dating Ghana’s independence.
The British council received a challenge from the Nigerian Hockey Association challenging the Gold Coast to a match in that year. The council declined this invitation because the country did not have a hockey team to respond to the challenge. Deliberations of that meeting led to the formation of the Gold Coast Hockey Association.
Consequently, the hockey association was formed with Mr. Owusu Afriyie, Minister of Social Welfare, elected the Chairman and Mr E.K. Okoh, Cabinet Secretary was elected as his deputy which led to the popularizing of the sport in the country.
Before Independence, a Gold Coast Hockey League had already been instituted and there were vibrant hockey clubs in cities like Kumasi, Secondi, Kibi, Tarkwa and Dunkwa.
In 1961 when Kwame Nkrumah was President, the association which had become the Ghana Hockey Association became a governing body under the National Sports Authority and the Ministry of Sports with affiliation to the Africa Hockey Federation and the International Hockey Federation.
The path for international recognition
As mentioned earlier, this game gave Ghana its first sporting recognition in 1975 when Ghana qualified and participated in the world cup held in Malaysia. The competition did not go great for Ghana as they failed to qualify from the group stages to the semifinals. Qualifying for their first ever World Cup experience would not be a one-off success for the country, as Ghana would go on to enjoy success on many levels in this sport.
The Senior National Male Team winning the African championship in 1974, The junior male team winning the African Championship in 1978 as well as participating in the Junior world cup in 1979 in France were some of the successes chalked in those years.
The Under-17 team was crowned champions of Africa in 2010 and represented Africa at the first ever Youth Olympic Games the same year. Interestingly, the Ghana Hockey Association was the first sports organization to recognize various female teams.
This has led to the senior female teams winning silver and bronze in many African tournaments. Both male and female club sides have won silver and bronze medals at various times in the prestigious Africa Cup for Club Champions Competition (ACCC).
Hockey in Ghana nowadays
There are many popular sports played in Ghana nowadays. Such is the case of boxing and the boys of Bukon. Did you know that Ghana has produced the largest number of boxing champions in Africa? Historically, Ghana has also been successful in many sports internationally. Many are the trophies and recognitions of the Ghanaian athletes in the diaspora.
On the other hand, football also plays a big role in the sports played in Ghana. Proof of that is the interest behing sponsoring the Ghana Football Association.
Today, the game is played in communities, high schools, tertiary institutions and basic schools, as well as the security services like the Police, Fire Service, Customs, and Prisons Services. According to the current data by the International Hockey Federation, Ghana’s male team ranks 37 out of 95 countries, while the female team ranks 32 out of 78 countries.
This sport has a treasured history in this country, one that continues to grow day-in and day-out. The Ghana Hockey Association opens its doors as always to companies or individuals that seek to promote and sponsor this beautiful sport. In a land of promise and beautiful history, Field Hockey holds its place as one of the pride sports of the Ghanaian people.
The Ghana Hockey Association
The Ghana Hockey Association began to have big plans of hosting the 2009 Hockey African Cup of Nations. The only problem was the lack of a State-of-the-Art facility that met international standards. The Association got to work. They lobbied through the Ministry of Sports and were able to secure funding from the government of Ghana as well as other donor agencies to build a stadium.
The stadium was completed in 2009 just in time for the games and it was named The Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium in honour of Madam Theodosia Okoh who was once the chairperson for the Ghana Hockey Association for her contributions to the development of Hockey in Ghana. The stadium was inaugurated by the then President John Atta Mills.
After the successful hosting of the Hockey African Cup of Nations, the hockey pitch has been used as a training ground for preparations to international competitions. Not only that, the local hockey leagues also take place in the stadium.
Hosting the Hockey African Cups of Nations
As far back as October 25th 2018, Ghana won the bid to host the Hockey African Cups of Nations by beating Egypt and had been declared as future hosts of the competition that would take place in 2023. So, preparations started to renovate and upgrade the stadium.
The renovation project was funded by the Ghana National Gas Company and the turf stands as well as the adjoining dormitories have been renovated; many people have expressed their pleasure at how beautiful the facility looks.
The Ghana Hockey team hopes to make the nation proud by winning the 2023 Hockey African Cup of Nations which will be held in Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast. It would be great to schedule a vacation to coincide with the games so as to enjoy the game, facilities, ambiance, places and people of Ghana.
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