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GFA/SWAG Capacity Building Seminar for Northern Sports Media Ends Successfully

The much publicized capacity building seminar for sports journalists in the Northern sector ended successfully at the Cheeta-Kel Hotel in Kumasi on Thursday April 1, 2021.

The colourful ceremony had in attendance the crème de la crème of the sports media in the Ashanti, Bono, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

The program which is a collaboration between the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Sports Writers’ Association of Ghana (SWAG) and funded from the FIFA Covid 19 relief fund started with the Southern sector event in Accra last month. It is aimed at sensitizing sports journalists on the workings of the GFA and ethical trends in the modern media landscape.

Speakers included SWAG president Kwabena Yeboah, GFA General Secretary Prosper Harrison Addo Esq., Deputy General Secretary Alex Asante, National Secretary of the Ghana Bar Association Yaw Boafo Esq. and GFA IT Director Francis Adu Essah.

In his welcome address, SWAG president Kwabena Yeboah was glad for the number of participants that turned up for the event especially members of SWAG Northern Region who “had travelled that far” as well as a member each from Upper East and Upper West. He called the seminar the “SWAG university of life” saying ever since SWAG took the initiative to continuously upgrade the skills of their members with the presentation to some members by Kwaku Sekyi Addo in Accra on ethics; the association hasn’t rested on its oars. He referred to Kumasi as the hub of sports journalism in Ghana judging from the number of sports journalists who practice there. He further called for decency in sports presentations by journalists saying there are a few “bad nuts” who lack information and are putting the name of sports journalists in disrepute. He said it was first in history that the current FA has its president, general secretary and communication director and some members of the communications team all being members of SWAG and said it was the reason organizing the seminar wasn’t difficult. He said the seminar was “first in history.”

For his part, GFA General Secretary Prosper Harrison Addo Esq. on behalf of the GFA president Kurt Okraku commended participants for attending and said the president was caught up by an equally important engagement.

In his main presentation on Governance and Structure of the GFA, the general secretary outlined the vision and mission of the GFA and its affiliate associations and threw some light on some pertinent issues on its core values and principles. He touched on the neutrality the FA upholds at all times and its strategic pillars that guides its work. He advised members of the association against engaging in betting saying it was an offense with varied degrees of sanctions if found culpable.

When it was his turn, Lawyer Yaw Boafo calmly and coolly took participants through the ethics of radio and print sports presentation and stories nailing it on defamation and how it could lead to law suits. He cautioned journalists on the need to give opportunity to all angles of the story for their respective reactions saying this is the hallmark of professionalism which must be upheld at all times. He blamed the current unbalanced reporting on lack of training, approaching the work as fanatics instead of professional journalists and wrong application of the freedom of speech mantra. He ended by saying if sports journalists are not careful, the current happenings in the political landscape of defamation suits will start soon in the sports fraternity. He sarcastically ended his presentation by saying that if anyone misbehaves on air and later comes to him to defend him in the law court; he will charge him/her high.

The Deputy General Secretary of the GFA, Mr. Alex Asante then took his turn and delivered on national teams. He said the country has about twelve national teams after the Under 15 boys and girls were added recently. He explained the collaboration between FIFA, CAF and the GFA in every calendar year on the schedule of international matches. He also touched on player call ups and the processes involved and answered questions on allegations of bribery in national team call ups which he said is discussed because we are in a human institution.

The day ended with a mega presentation on Football and IT and how it facilitates the work of the GFA by its IT director Mr. Francis Adu Essah. He explained the various requirements for player transfers and the systems that exist to do that both locally and internationally. He reminded the sports media not to use the word “sell” to refer to a player moving from one team to another and said “engage” should rather be used. He spent a good time on the Competition Management System (TMS) saying it is what is used in generating fixtures, managing squad lists, managing cautions and expulsions and referees and match commissioners reports. He said the current wave of IT advancement globally is having a huge impact on how the game of football is managed by FIFA, CAF and Member Associations.

SWAG Ashanti Regional chairman Barima Boadaa Otuo Acheampong in his closing remarks said, he was happy to be the hosting chairman for the event and called on participants to make use of what they have leant to improve in their chosen endeavors.    

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