UG Plays Crucial Role in Successfully Held 13th African Games

After an exhilarating three-week display of African sportsmanship, the 13th edition of the African Games, Accra 2023, reached its climax with a jubilant crowd overflowing the University of Ghana Stadium on Saturday, March 23, 2024.

Dubbed “Experience the African Dream,” the games spanned 16 days, featuring over 5,000 athletes from 54 member states of the African Union competing in 29 different sports disciplines right in the heart of Accra.

The University's campus served as the epicentre of the games, with the majority of the facilities for hosting the events located within its premises. The University of Ghana Stadium itself was the grand stage for the opening and closing ceremonies, setting the tone for the electrifying festivities that followed.

Snapshot of some events during the games

Amidst captivating performances from Ghanaian and other African artists, the stadium also hosted a plethora of sporting competitions, including athletics and football. The newly constructed rugby field hosted the inaugural rugby tournament as part of the games, with the GCB Hall serving as the venue for the Weightlifting competitions and the netball court serving as the venue for the 3X3 basketball competitions.

3X3-a-side basketball competitions at UG

In the area of athletics, the UG Stadium witnessed outstanding feats as athletes from across the continent showcased their prowess in track and field events. From sprinting to javelin throw, athletes shattered personal bests and set new records, captivating audiences with their sheer talent and determination. Notable among these, was the outstanding performance by Ghanaian high jumper, Cadman Evans Yamoah, a former student of UG, who won gold in the men’s high jump category.

Notably, the Black Satellites of Ghana secured their place in the semi-finals of the men's football competition with a thrilling victory over Benin at the UG Stadium, ultimately clinching the gold medal in a riveting finale later at the Accra Sports Stadium. Playing the Black Satellites game at the UG stadium indicates that the standard pitch is capable of hosting international matches.

Ghana vs Benin (Final Group Game)

Beyond the adrenaline-pumping competitions, UG provided essential infrastructure and support services vital for the smooth functioning of the games. From accommodation for volunteers and athletes (the Games Village) to state-of-the-art training facilities, the University left no stone unturned in ensuring a seamless experience for all involved.

The competitions drew scores of UG community members, made up of faculty, staff and students, to the various games sites. Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo was present at some of the games and joined in the presentation of medals to winning athletes. It was a moment of pride to see some former students of UG take part in various disciplines.

Medal presentation

The legacy of the 13th African Games extends far beyond the confines of the stadium, with UG spearheading initiatives aimed at leveraging the event for sustainable sports development. The facilities, as announced by the Minister of Sports, Hon. Mustapha Ussif, will become host facilities for proposed annual national athletics competitions.

Aerial view of the UG Stadium during the games.
UG's commitment to sports excellence is exemplified by its efforts to maintain and utilise the infrastructure accrued from the games for future sporting endeavors, setting the stage for a vibrant sporting culture within the university community and beyond. In this regard, a team has been constituted to oversee the management and sustainability of the facilities.

Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo celebrated the University of Ghana's focal role in hosting the 13th African Games, highlighting its commitment to sports excellence and regional cooperation.

She articulated, “The 13th African Games marked a monumental occasion for the University of Ghana to showcase our longstanding commitment to excellence in sports and regional collaboration.”

Prof. Amfo acknowledged the University’s pride in its multifaceted role, stating, “As an institution of higher learning, we take great pride in our position as a co-host and contributor to the resounding success of the games. It is a demonstration of the collective effort of our esteemed faculty, dedicated staff and passionate students."

Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo (right) with Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Ghana (left) during the opening ceremony

Looking ahead, she reaffirmed the University's resolve to ensuring the lasting legacy of the African Games through tangible outcomes for sports development and academic engagement.

Addressing the imperative of maintaining and optimising the existing and newly constructed facilities, she asserted, “We fully recognise the importance of sustaining the infrastructure developed for the games. We are committed to collaborating closely with stakeholders to ensure these facilities are utilised optimally for sports development and community engagement.”

Expressing high hopes for the facilities' potential, she added, “Our expectation is that these facilities serve as catalysts for talent development, providing an enabling environment for nurturing budding athletes.”

Prof. Amfo seized the opportunity to express gratitude to the President, the African Union Commission, the Minister for Youth and Sports, the LOC, Registrar, Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah who was the UG liason working with the LOC, technical committees, the UG Sports Directorate and all other key stakeholders who worked tirelessly towards the hosting of the games.

The Director of UG Sports Directorate, Dr. Bella Bello Bitugu, tasked with overseeing the facilities as the facility manager, echoed Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo's sentiments. He emphasised, “As the facility manager entrusted with the stewardship of the infrastructure from the African Games, our foremost priority is to uphold the highest standards of maintenance and ensure equitable access for all stakeholders.”

Highlighting the immense potential of the facilities, the Director of Sports mentioned that “these facilities represent a goldmine for the University's sports programmes, offering cutting-edge amenities to nurture talent and facilitate interdisciplinary research in sports science and management.”

Director of UG Sports Directorate, Dr. Bella Bello Bitugu

Dr. Bitugu envisaged the facilities as vibrant hubs of activity, “We envision these facilities becoming vibrant centers, not only for competitive sports but also for recreational and educational pursuits, enriching the University experience for students and the broader community alike."

Confident in the future trajectory, Dr. Bitugu was hopeful that, “With diligent management and strategic partnerships, we are optimistic that these facilities will serve as springboards for the University of Ghana's continued excellence in sports and talent development.”

As the curtain falls on the 13th African Games, the University of Ghana's indelible imprint on the event serves as evidence of its solid commitment to sports development, education and regional cooperation.

From thrilling competitions to enduring legacies, UG's role in the success of the games echoes far and wide, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of African sports.