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Michael Essien is targeting a return to Chelsea’s first team after his loan to Real Madrid ends at the end of the season.The Ghanaian midfielder was sent out on loan following his recovery from a serious knee injury in 2011/12.After re-find his form at Madrid, Essien is keen to perform once again at Stamford Bridge and is convinced that his time at Real has shown that he can perform at the highest level.“I will return to Chelsea with my head up and try to win my place back,” said Essien.“I think my loan at Madrid has shown I have still got it at the top level.”
2014 Commonwealth Games: the value will be the sameI, Afi, may be described as a prophet of doom or an unpatriotic citizen of Ghana in my quest to be frank and sincere with my motherland. I dare say the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, at which Ghana will definitely participate, will be no different from previous ones when it comes to performance and winning of medals. Infact – the value will be the same! Infact, we may not win more than five medals or nothing at all because we have over the years, not made any frantic efforts at winning any medal when it comes to preparation of athletes for the competition. For countries which have won medals, it has not been just a matter of days, but years of preparation and I don’t know whether mother Ghana has embarked on any such preparations to merit a medal at the Games. Why am I saying so? For the whole of 2013, not a single pesewa had gone to any of the Associations to organize local competitions or participate in international events, whilst other countries prepare their athletes for a period of four years. All the associations that have organized local competitions and participated in international events have done so at the benevolence of their chairmen or presidents or other philanthropists or corporate organizations, whilst those who have not been able to organize anything are the unfortunate orphans. With this, how does government or the nation expect any medal from any of the athletes going for the Commonwealth Games? For those, who may care to know, it is not possible to win medals at international games with just one or two competitions as preparations. Athletes who have won medals at international competitions such as the Commonwealth Games have before the games, competed in several competitions to improve their timing, fitness level and competitiveness. What about the case of Ghana? we have limited competitions for almost every event, and yet, we want to win medals at the Commonwealth Games as hoped by the Minister of Youth and Sports during the inauguration of a 25-member committee to plan Ghana’s participation. A little research conducted by advanced countries show that, athletes who win medals at the Olympic Games and other international events are prepared over a period of four years with special attention given to training schedules, dieting, personal management and all. It is based on this that I find no justification in the expectation of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), the National Sports Authority (NSA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) that we win more medals at the games. I know deep down the hearts of the GOC and NSA that, they are aware we may be coming home either empty-handed or with very minimal number of medals. So if the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Sports Authority (NSA) think Ghana can make any significant impact at the games, then it is definitely a mirage. Ghana is not in a position to make a major breakthrough at the Games because we did not, and have not prepared for the event. I have taken great pain to study the medal trend of Ghana at the Commonwealth Games and it is obvious we may be heading for the worse competition ever.From the records, Ghana’s best performance at the games had been 1962, 1966 and 1974 where we ended the competition with a total of nine medals each, then 1970, where we had seven medals. These modest successes could be attributed to the fact that, they were the golden moments in Ghana Sports, but on the contrary, we have seen a constant decline since 1978, with five medals as the best so far. In our last participation, which was Delhi 2010, we only managed four medals, with the disabled team contributing two out of the four. What is even more disheartening is that, our disabled athletes have since the Paralympic Games in London, become training horses without competition, and so how would they be in a competitive state to deliver? Our mainstream athletes have been engaging in some competitions but for obvious reasons,may not be enough to put them in the right frame for medals. I am not ruling Ghana out of the competition but I strongly believe our impact will be insignificant. Yes we may win some few medals in Athletics, Weightlifting and Disability Sports, but it will be the same story of; “what happened?” “What did we do wrong?” After which we shall go to bed for another four years. I urge Ghanaians to manage their expectations. We have to accept the fact that, we are going as a commonwealth nation and next, for political reasons, other than participating to win medals. I rest my case! Afi Xorlali will be back next week!