A retired sports journalist and former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports has described as illegal and dishonourable the unilateral decision by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to rename the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium after late President John Evans Atta Mills.
Reacting to the AMA’s announcement that it had renamed the hockey stadium as part of the celebration of the first anniversary of the death of the President, who played a prominent role in the development and progress of hockey in the country, Mr Joe Aggrey said it was not right as the stadium had already been named. He said changing the name was disrespectful to the illustrious woman who is still alive.
“While we all agree to honour the memory of the late President who was a great sportsman, the hockey facility has already been named after another legend, Mrs Theodosia Okoh, as part of a decision to rename all national sports edifices after illustrious former sportsmen and sportswomen. Therefore to change the name of an edifice which has already been named is not only disrespectful but dishonourable to Mrs Okoh who is alive,” Mr Aggrey said.
The former deputy minister explained that the decision to name the hockey facility after Mrs Okoh was taken in 2004 after careful deliberations and consultations by a competent group of people who formed a committee set up by the government.
“Her role in the development of Ghana hockey, where she was even nicknamed Joan d’Arc of Ghana hockey, is equally recognisable. She was not the only one who had a sports facility named after her.
“There is the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Robert Mensah Sports Stadium in Cape Coast, the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex in Kaneshie and several others.
“The decision by the AMA certainly demeans whatever role Mrs Okoh played for Ghana hockey and knowing the late President, I think he would not have approved of such an action,” Mr Aggrey, a former Group Sports Editor of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, added.
Also reacting to the change of name, a source at the National Sports Authority (NSA) said it was surprised by the announcement from the AMA as the naming of national facilities was not for the assembly to make.
“All sports facilities in the country are under the National Sports Authority and it is the only body, acting on behalf of government, has the right or mandate to name or change names of such facilities.
“The facility does not belong to the AMA and, therefore, it has no legal right to change its name. So far as we are concerned, the facility had a name even before it was developed from the national pitch to the stadium,” the source stressed.
Meanwhile, Mrs Okoh, an octagenarian who lives at Kanda in Accra, declined to comment on the issue when the Daily Graphic contacted her yesterday.
Mrs Okoh was a national hockey star who went on to chair the National Hockey Association and was instrumental in securing the present site for the hockey stadium at a time the AMA tried to take over the land for an expanded lorry station.
Source: Rosalind K. Amoh/Graphic
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