The Embassy of Japan in Ghana on Friday signed a grant contract worth $123,453 with the Ohayo Ghana Foundation, a locally-based, non-governmental organisation (NGO), for the construction of Baseball and Softball field at the Labone Senior High School.
The project, which falls in line with the Japan Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Project Scheme, would improve the sport and cultural exchange relations between the two countries and would therefore be named as “Ghana-Japan Memorial Field”, when completed.
Mr Shigeru Hamano, Charge d’affaires of the Embassy, at the signing ceremony in Accra, explained that the collaborative efforts between Japanese and Ghanaians towards promoting baseball in Ghana over the years was gradually yielding some gains with statistics showing increases in the number of schools and club teams.
Currently, there are about 83 schools teams and about 30 club teams which participate in various tournaments in the sporting area which is described as of a lesser known to people.
Mr Hamano stressed that when completed, the project would contribute directly to the issue of sports development outlined in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA).
He said the 2010-2013 volume one of the GSGDA, recognising the importance of sports as a tool for development, stressed that sports helped improve health, strengthened the sense of solidarity in the society, improved self esteem and abilities of individuals, as well as promoted international understanding and bilateral relations within the international community.
Mr Hamano also indicated that the facility would make it possible for the GHABSA to organise school and club tournaments to encourage the youth in Ghana to generate interest in the sporting area..
He explained that although the project would be executed by the Ohayo Ghana Foundation, it would be handed over on completion to the Ghana Baseball and Softball Association (GHABSA) as an official field for such sporting activity and maintained with assistance from the Ghana National Sports Authority (NSA).
Mr Albert Frimpong, President, GHABSA, thanked the government and people of Japan for the assistance and also the management of Ohayo Ghana Foundation as well as the National Sports Authority for the initiative, which has resulted in securing the grant for the project.
He also thanked the management of the Labone Senior High School for donating the land for the project, acknowledging the fact that although the unique sporting activity had been on-going in the country for years, the GHABSA had been faced with infrastructure challenges and a permanent field of operation making it difficult to organise tournaments.
Ms Alice Attipoe, Acting Director of NSA, commended the Japanese government for its continuous assistance in the development of sports infrastructure in the country, and also for donating the land to the Labone Senior High school.
She said the NSA was faced with several challenges with respect to infrastructure and equipment for sporting activities in Ghana and she therefore appealed to government to grant the Authority some form of gratis to be able to donate sporting equipment, as duties often charged on such goods puts a lot of pressure on the Authority’s limited budget.