The Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, on behalf of President John Dramani Mahama, has directed the Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to reverse the decision to change the name of the National Hockey Pitch.
According to information released to journalists at the Flagstaff House yesterday, the Presidency was not aware of the decision to change the name from ‘Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium’ and had directed a reversal of the decision forthwith.
It said the AMA Chief Executive, Alfred Vanderpuije, had also been summoned to the Presidency over the decision, which was taken without recourse to the Presidency.
The AMA announced that it had renamed the National Hockey Pitch as part of the celebration of the first anniversary of the demise of President J.E.A. Mills in recognition of his prominent role in the development of hockey in the country.
The renaming of the pitch has attracted criticism from some quarters, with retired sports journalist and former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Joe Aggrey, saying the renaming was not right, as the pitch had already been named after Mrs Okoh.
Hours before the presidency settled the matter, Mrs Okoh broke her silence and warned: “You either keep the honour by retaining my name on the national hockey stadium, or do your worst!”
The usually calm Mrs Okoh, the first female chairperson of the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA) and after whom the stadium had been named since 2004, did not hide her anger and disappointment over the decision by the AMA last Tuesday to rename the sporting facilitys.
She told the Graphic Sports yesterday: “It is sad the way and manner ordinary people who strive to achieve something for the country are treated. I’m proud of the role I played to bring Ghana hockey this far, but today I’m really sad about the way I’m being treated. I don’t think the late President, knowing him for who he was, would approve of this.”
Mrs Okoh, 91, who is also famed for designing the national flag, also advised that those in authority must take actions that would encourage many more ordinary people to be more patriotic and nationalist instead of doing things that would keep them holed-up in their small corners.
“I secured the present venue for hockey at a time when no one was ready to commit to the sport. When there were moves to convert the area into a lorry park, I almost single-handedly opposed it and fought hard to keep the place for the sport so that we could all have somewhere to play because the pitch at Achimota where the sport was played was no longer in good condition.”
“I believe I deserve the honour done me for the role I played in Ghana hockey but if they decide not to give me that honour, the least I deserve is respect.”
Mrs Okoh, a Patron of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) insisted her name be taken off the facility if it was only for the playing pitch and not the entire stadium as was explained by the Mayor of Accra Mayor, Dr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, on Peace FM’s morning show Kokrokoo.
“The pitch has been named after her (Madam Theodosia), but the stadium is in the name of the late President. The facility in the stadium and the whole environment has been named after him (President Mills)…the hockey stadium is now going to be known as Prof John Evans Atta Mills Hockey Stadium but when you enter the stadium, the pitch is there and that will be in her name (Madam Theodosia Okoh Pitch). It has not changed,” explained the Mayor.