GUSA 2022: Inside Legon – University of Ghana targets knocking UCC off pedestal

GUSA 2022: Inside Legon – University of Ghana targets knocking UCC off pedestal

The University of Ghana, Legon (UG) is aiming to oust the University of Cape Coast (UCC) as Ghana University Sports Association (GUSA) mammoths, as 2022’s games get underway.

UCC has dominated the medal desk from 2012 to the games’ last occasion in 2020, top the leaderboard in all of the editions. Meanwhile, Legon has put up credible outcomes, recording two silver and a bronze end between 2014 and 2018.

However, when Legon last hosted the games in 2020, the establishment dropped out of the rostrum locations, with the University of Development Studies changing it, because it completed fourth. Nonetheless, there’s renewed energy from UG as GUSA returns this year.

Training camps for all 10 groups of the University opened on October 13 as preparations had been geared up, after a brief coaching camp in December 2021. But regardless of the seemingly brief window obtainable for high quality tuning, Dr. Bella Bello Bitugu, Sports Director at the college, believes Legon will do higher than 2020.

“We are very positive towards improving on our medal haul from what we had in 2020. You will appreciate that immediately after GUSA games, things started going downwards in terms of sports, so there wasn’t much practice, less competitions and others. And this is really the first major tournament, and we are positive that we will at least match what we had at GUSA 2020, when we hosted. We are doing our best, and have done our best, so are positive,” he told Joy Sports.

The University of Ghana gained 12 gold, 21 silver and 19 bronze medals in 2020. The men’s football group felt the pangs of narrowly shedding out on gold after they had been very narrowly overwhelmed by UCC to the gold medal.

The two groups had been tied on factors, however a more healthy goal distinction left UCC celebrating whereas UG wallowed in self pity.

“My players were very bad, were feeling very bad. They didn’t understand and I had to take more than a week to explain to them but still, they were looking for the gold. And you know, University of Ghana, before you can travel outside to play for the university, you have to get a gold medal, in whatever competition you play.

“If you place first, it means you have the ticket to go outside. We were bound to go to Kenya for the FASU games, and we placed second, so it was heart-breaking,” Tahiru Yusif Amuda, the football head coach narrated.

While the footballers drowned within the pool of sorry emotion, Legon’s men’s volleyball group had succeeded in upsetting the chances once they beat UCC of their remaining game to win gold. They weren’t thought of amongst the occasion’s favourites, however after spending thousands and thousands of cedis within the development of two new volleyball courts and others, they made positive to inaugurate the court docket by flattening the bourgeoisies.

“A lot of transformation has taken place. Before GUSA and even after. So as we invested in having a standardised court, it gives us the ability to offer the best of training so that they can give off their best and it told well at GUSA 2022.

“We are for the ultimate all the time, so are preparing towards the ultimate. Fortunately, we’ve had three weeks of extensive preparation and results in our trial matches tell we are more prepared for the competition in Kumasi,” Henry Nii Sackey, head coach of the volley ball group said to Joy Sports.

Over the last seven to eight years, tertiary basketball in Ghana has all the time screamed the University of Ghana, made potential by the dominance of the UG Guerrillas who’ve gained basketball gold in GUSA since 2016.

Three GUSA titles with an unbeaten six year run which stretches to the continent, and seen them win two consecutive Federation of African University Sports (FASU) basketball championships, in domineering trend.

However, the Guerrillas enter this year’s games wounded, with their six-year unbeaten run severed by Kenyatta University at the 2022 FASU games. And additionally with none member of the present group having any GUSA experience, other tertiary establishments consider they’re at their weakest, however Emmanuel Wobil – head coach – is assured they will string surprises.

“This team is new but not all that new. It’s just that they haven’t played GUSA and this will be their first, before but it all depends on the training – their conditioning and how they’ll respond to the coach. That will make them a team. If you look at our training from day one, till now, you can see improvements. You can see the team can still excel in GUSA.

“This team has a little bit of lapses out there, yet still they’ll get to the final, and when we’ll get there, we’ll cross the bridge.”

While UCC dominated the athletics occasions of GUSA 2020, profitable 8 gold and 11 silver medals, it was the University of Ghana who stole the headlines, by way of exploits of Benjamin Azamati within the men’s 100m. 10.60m within the remaining left him as GUSA’s hottest athlete, and Legon brazing because the 100m occasion is one of the games most sought-after.

Legon has long-lost out on Azamati although, when Texas A&M University got here in, and with Ghana’s quickest man out of the best way, the University of Ghana recognises that lips-licking rivals are assured the area is now up for grabs.

“Scholastic sports is something that lasts for four years, maximum and even two/three years when you’re doing a diploma. There are always students going and coming, so you need to have a strategy of replenishing those leaving. We have tried and are still trying to do that with our many policies; the University of Ghana Policy on Admission of Athlete Student (UG-PAS) and the University of Ghana Sports Fund, so we are trying our best.

“Let’s see what happens in Kumasi but we are positive, we do think we have to take it because we have a strong team,” Dr. Bitugu said.

Dramani Abdul Wahab, a dash coach with the college added: “100, 200, we are bringing the gold back to UG so they shouldn’t worry about Azamati going to the States. We have Rasheed, James, Mustapha – the guys are ready to fight so now we need the alumni to support. They should come in their numbers, we are going to prove lots of people wrong.”

Indeed, insurance policies like UG-PAAS, appear to be bearing fruit for the college, as Abdul-Rasheed Saminu has been roped in into the college’s setup. Saminu, with a personal greatest of 10.31, was half of Ghana’s group which secured a spot within the remaining of the men’s relay before their disqualification, and is an athlete the college is hopeful will defend their 100m gold medal.

“The 10.31 is not even my target,” Saminu explained when quizzed about his want to break his personal record. “I am just targetting the GUSA100m record, 10.25s and I’m just preparing towards it. My colleagues are also preparing because it is going to be fire, we are just ready to face whatever is coming.”

‘my colleagues are also preparing’ is a call of intent, and rightly so, as Saminu will not have to do it on their own. Aziz Mohammed, a center-distance runner is one of the extremely-rated at the college. In 2021, he recorded a personal greatest of 3:54 within the 1500m even of the 2021 Kumasi Open Championship, and returning to the City just one year later, will be wanting to shore up Legon’s efforts in monitor and subject.

Saminu will not have to do it on their own although. Aziz Mohammed, a center-distance runner is one of the University’s extremely-rated athletes, and with a personal greatest of 3:54 recorded at the 2021 Kumasi Open Championship, he can shore up UG’s efforts in monitor and subject when he returns to town.

“Sometimes when you come to training, you feel like you’re very tired, and can’t move again, but he says training won’t kill you, and you train hard and compete easily. So I think that has helped me a lot when we started training.

“To win,” was his easy reply when requested what his targets for GUSA had been. “I won’t promise anything, but to win.”

Despite UCC’s dominance, Legon’s male athletes have made credible makes an attempt of closing the hole to the ever-crusing coasters. But the feminine groups have seemingly struggled to stand up to the competitors, regardless of the resurgence of the feminine basketball group, the UG Amazonians, and Grace Obour’s shattering 400m record in 2020.

The Amazonians after sweeping subject to win GUSA 2020, return in a bid to defend their title, and along with Grace Obour, Legon will look to anchor on them for improved performances.

“From the past GUSA years, UG’s male teams have obtained so many gold medals, but for the females, only a few like basketball [have won]. More of the medals are from athletics. But this year, there is hope we will get more gold because the sports directorate have been doing a lot. Provided good coaches, and had sessions with the psychologists,” Hannah, captain of the Amazonians indicated.

“University of Ghana we don’t havea lot of female athletes, but the coaches have been doing their best to trainn us towards the GUSA games. Our director has been encouraging and advising us. Whatever he has to do to support, he tries to do it to make sure we improve. So this year, we’ll try our possible best to improve, and I know we’ll make it,” Grace Obour, GUSA 400m record-holder told Joy Sports.

The University of Ghana groups opened their 2002 GUSA campaign with victories over GIMPA, UPSA, GIMPA – again, and UDS in men’s basketball, netball, men’s volleyball and men’s seaside volleyball.

There had been walkovers for the netball and men’s volleyball groups.

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