Without a doubt, the media coverage of the 26th Ghana University Sports Association (GUSA) Games Legon 2020 held from 3rd to 19th January ranks as one of the best of all-time, if not the best in the history of the GUSA Games since its inception in 1964.
GUSA is a biannual event involving public universities in Ghana. This year, two new institutions, the Ghana Institute of Journalism and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, were added to the rooster to compete in 12 sports disciplines.
Hundreds and thousands of people in Ghana and across the globe had access to the games on media platforms such as television, YouTube, radio, and on social media platforms with a simple click of the mouse.
“Perhaps, apart from the first GUSA in the 1960’s, I haven’t witnessed or heard about a better, efficiently well organised GUSA than this one. And this is not coming from me, but I am quoting from the print, the internet, radio and from people who have been interacting with me,” Co-chair of the Local Organising Committee Dr. Bella Bello Bitugu said.
This was a mass departure from the previous editions of GUSA, such as UDS 2018 and UEW 2016, where coverage was limited to the university community while national media coverage was concentrated on the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Host Broadcaster and the University of Ghana Computing Systems (UGCS) multimedia team raised the bar particularly in the live broadcast of the event on their You Tube channel, radio, television and other social media platforms. On an average day, their production team was equipped with 5 cameras and a drone.
During the last football match between host UG and the University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, some spectators confused their set up for a Video Assisted Referee technology (VAR) as is done in the major football leagues in Europe and Fifa organized tournaments.
Footballmadeinghana.com speculated that UGCS might be contracted to help provide VAR assistance in the upcoming league game between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
Significantly, their live stream attracted over 12.3k viewers during three days of the athletics championships. Nii Adokwei Codjoe, Executive Producer for radio and television for the host broadcast, said their objective for covering the games was met.
“The objective was to move the GUSA games from being a university community games to alumni, parents of the athletes, corporate Ghana and the world at large,” he said.
“In terms of equipment for production we had to fall on the equipment from UGCS multimedia unit and external support. We had to rent an outside broadcast equipment for live radio commentary and some additional support from GTV Sports +.
“We had a total of 66 personnel made up of 25 volunteer reporters attached to University of Ghana, 20 from GTV Sports +, 10 handling the UGCS equipment, 7 handling the LED equipment and 7 production assistance covering each of the 12 disciplines. Within the same team, we had graphic designers who worked on the fixtures, results and tables. We had no budget for this production but we came onboard as a media organisation covering the games.”
For the first time ever, the GUSA Athletics Championships was shown live on national television GTV Sports + to audiences in Ghana and across the world.
The opening and closing ceremonies, the latter being shown live on GTV Sports +, was covered by not less than 30 media houses drawn from the Graphic, Ghanaian Times, Daily Guide, Radio Universe, Citi FM, Multi TV/Joy FM, Asempa FM.
The media center located at the Sports Directorate provided a ready source of information on the games and a working space for journalists who came to the event.
The room which could seat about 40 people was convenient, equipped with internet access and air conditioned. Many keen followers of GUSA over the years noted the progress and improvements at Legon 2020.
“The organization and other amenities have brought GUSA very far especially in the media. In fact, the extent to which GUSA has gone now I’m wondering if we will ever get there again. I will appeal to the media to continue as a matter of urgency to give us mileage as they are doing now so that we will attract investors and sponsors into GUSA,” the Director of Sports, University for Development Studies (UDS) Shaibu Ibrahim Tanko said having last hosted the Games in 2018.
It appears the media sub-committee of the Local Organising Committee led by Dr. Alhaji Sidique Abubakar Ahmed had a good plan in place to make the games accessible to all.
The event attracted a lot of students and also alumni of the various universities. One of them was a former staff of Citi FM staff and a former Radio Universe reporter Umar Farouk Atipaga. A former student of the University of Ghana, he was quick to notice the improvements in the organisation of the games from his previous experiences.
“From my point of view, it is the best GUSA Games based on what I have seen and from the rest of the GUSA Games I attended. This one (GUSA 2020) has been well organised and coordinated compared to the previous ones I attended. The last GUSA Games I covered was in 2009.
“With twitter, facebook and all other social media avenues, people are able to tell what is happening, venues for games, tables, statistics and what have you. For instance, I have not been able to attend every competition because of work but once I sit at work and open my twitter account, I am able to visit the games page and I get a feeling of what is happening by way of statistics, fixtures, and standings.
In a few moments where the some students misbehaved, the Police came in and arrested them and I think the others have comported themselves because of how it was handled,”
There was clear visibility of the games on campus with various lamp posts visibly advertising the competition. Event sponsors, DigiPlex also provided advertisement via its LED Screen platforms along the main Legon-Accra high way and others on campus.
The reasons for the increased attention on GUSA are not hard to find and understand.
With the best athletes in the country across 12 disciplines paraded at Legon to compete for laurels, the Ghanaian media were curious about university sports and delivered the action across television, radio, online and social media.
The recent performances of three Ghanaian based athletes at the African Games 2019- sprinter Benjamin Kwaku Azamati 4x100m gold medalist, high jump gold medalist Rose Amoanima Yeboah and 400m bronze medalist Grace Obour- is still fresh on the minds of a lot of Ghanaians.
The GUSA Games was far much easier to sell this time as all three competitors were interestingly in action for their respective universities.
Leading TV and Radio Presenters were on the scene to file live reports from the grounds as the media houses bid to outdo each other in the reportage of the Games.
George Addo jnr of Joy FM and the Multi Media Group, a regular face at the games, gave his assessment of the multi sports event.
“I think its been great. Organisation has been good especially from the media side. We had a lot of well-known media personalities showing interest in this. Overall, I think we’ve been able to get the attention of Ghana to know that there is something happening with university games. I will give the organisers 90%”
As one GUSA official alluded to, the coverage could have been influenced by the fact that the Games were being held in the capital Accra.
It also meant isolated cases where some spectators misbehaved were also widely reported on social media.
But the LOC and Police reviewed the incidents and beefed up security at the centers to enforce public order. Despite these isolated incidents, the 11 Public universities are expected to leave Legon with good memories from the 12 sports disciplines they took part in.
It seems UG 2020 has raised the bar for media coverage for the GUSA games and the next host university will be expected to back the trend.