Two-and-a-half years after the first steps were taken to establish rugby league’s first presence in West Africa, the Ghanaian National Sports Authority has officially recognised the sport.
In a letter dated 13 October, Joe Kpenge, director general of the NSA, confirmed his organisation’s decision to allow Ghana Rugby League to access more facilities, acquire sponsorships and, crucially, open the door for local schools to play against each other, rather than only internally.
This s a significant step forward, brokered by Sylvester Wellington who assumed the role of national development manager in June 2012.
“The British Pioneers tour was very successful, we obtained observer status [of the RLEF], and now after one year of trying to get accreditation, we have it,” he said from Accra.
“We want to say a big thank you to all those who have helped us. I now know our hard work has paid off but we will use this achievement to move to greater heights now have legal documents backing us.
RLEF Middle East Africa Director Remond Safi, who is working with Ethiopian and Kenyan associations to gain Observer status, and who guided the Sierra Leone Federation to acquire that last month, believes the move will significantly contribute to rugby league’s growth in the region.
“The GRL gaining government recognition will prompt them to become pioneers and lead other West African nations to follow in their footsteps,” he commented. “It’s a great day for international rugby league whenever a new government recognises the sport.”