Sylvester Wellington

It might well be one of the last countries you would expect to see or hear about rugby league, but in Ghana, they take their rugby league seriously – with the first official RL matches taking place in Accra.

The games, which were held as a part of the UK Sport International Leadership Symposium in Accra, saw three teams from Ghana (University of Ghana, Nima and Monprobie) play in three 40 minute games, with a plethora of dignitaries and local schoolkids watching the games.

The game was not only watched by schoolkids however, with several project leaders from sub-Saharan African countries, UK Sport officials and officials from affiliated organisations in attendance to watch.

With recent graduates of the leadership program organising the festival and Ghana’s Rugby League Development Manager Sylvester Wellington refereeing, Wellington says that things have been going well so far.

“Everything has been going great,” said Wellington.

“We’ve been able to form six local clubs. We have about 20 schools on board and we’ll be starting our championship in June.”

Ghana’s notoriety in rugby league is not only confined to their own country, though, as RLEF General Manager Danny Kazandjian accompanying Wellington to several training sessions, pleased with what we saw and praising the numbers playing rugby league.

“I saw the enthusiastic reception the schoolboys gave the sport,” said Kazandjian.

“The internal ‘house’ system employed in Ghana coupled with the willingness of the schools to include rugby league in their stable of sports means that some will have 10 teams playing in-house competitions before they even select a school team. Having an average of 60 boys playing per class means that the numbers could be remarkable.”

Whilst they know that there is still much work to do, their tireless nature in seeing rugby league has Wellington and others eager to ensure that the game is a success in Ghana.

“The surprising thing has been that, although we’re working with people who didn’t know rugby league six-months ago, all of a sudden they are tackling and playing,” said Wellington.

“It seems as though they’ve been in the game for so long, it’s amazing.”

A key step in that process is to establish an official Ghana rugby league Federation, and that is one step closer after Wellington, Kazandjian and University of Ghana Director of Sports Dr Emmanuel Owusu-Ansah visited the National Sports Authority to discuss the matter.

“The meeting was as encouraging as it could possibly have been,” said Kazandjian. “The Director General’s office is aware of our ongoing development work, has a good relationship with our local partners and pledged to recognise the federation upon receipt of our application, which will be completed within a fortnight.”

By ricky

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