The Commonwealth Games has a rich sporting tradition that goes back to 1930. In its earliest iteration, the multi-sport event featured 11 nations and 400 athletes. Now, in its 22nd edition, 4,600 athletes from 72 nations and territories will be participating in the English city of Birmingham in the event known as the Friendly Games.
Hockey has been played at the Commonwealth Games since 1998 and in that first year, it was Australia who dominated, winning gold in both the men’s and women’s competitions. Malaysia men and England women took silver, while England men and New Zealand women won the bronze medals.
South Africa men finished once in 4th place in 2002. Their female counterparts finished 4th place twice in 2010 and 2014.
Kenya women known as the ‘Blades’ are making their second appearance at the Commonwealth Games. They first participated in 1998 when they finished 10th. The ladies have been making terrific strides forward in recent years, with a growing grassroots community that is translating into success at the elite level. Pundits say that the blades may well cause a few upsets along the way in this tournament.
Kenya’s squad includes goalkeepers Okore Quinter and Adhiambo Millicent. Defenders Mbugua Beatrice, Lynn Mumbi, Onyango Vivian, and Anjao Joan. Midfielders Owiti Maureen (Defender/ Midfielder), Mutiva Flavian (Utility), Guchu Caroline (Utility/Midfielder), and Kipsang Tamunai. Forwards Okumu Maureen (Midfielder/Forward), Owiti Alice (Midfielder/Forward), Eleanor Chebet (Midfielder/Forward), Okumu Gilly (Midfielder/Forward), Onsare Jeriah, Odhiambo Nichole, Bwire Akoth Grace, and Kemunto Naomi.
The blades are in Pool B with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland, and Kenya
This edition will be the first time Ghana men have qualified for the Commonwealth Games, while the women’s team first appeared in 2018, where they finished 10th. For Ghana women, the Commonwealth Games is a great opportunity to test themselves on the world stage as they so often just fail to qualify for major events because they tend to lose out to South Africa.
For both teams, the event in Birmingham will provide an invaluable experience as the teams continue to grow and develop. For their part, the athletes can be relied upon to bring their own style of fast-flowing, attacking hockey and a real joie de vivre as they compete.
Ghana men face a rigid competition in Pool B with Wales, Canada, England, and India.
They will push their first ball in Birmingham on Friday, July 29, when they play against England followed by India on Sunday, July 31. The team would then come up against Canada on August 1 and wrap up with Wales on Wednesday, August 3.
The team’s technical bench would be headed by Ali Ghazanfar as Head Coach with Ebenezer Frimpong as his assistant. Stephen Tenkorang would be the Team Manager while Adangabey Gaetan serves as the Physiotherapist.
Players selected to represent the country are Lee Derick (four caps), Osumanu Mohammed (debutant), Abbiw Charles (41 caps), Akaba Elikem (Captain – 64caps), Ankomah Emmanuel (20caps), Kwofie Benjamin (nine caps), Agbeli Samuel (12caps), Akaba Emmanuel (25 caps), and Afari Samuel (21 caps).
The rest are Opoku Ernest (28 caps), Offei Tyche (5 caps), Ntiamoah Alfred (46 caps), Damalie Matthew (40 caps), Baiden Michael (28 caps), Damalie Luke (22 caps), Dogbe Christopher (4 caps), Acheampong Eugene (28 caps), and Tettey Francis (20 caps).
Captain of the national men’s hockey team, Elikem Akaba, will make his 65th appearance for the team at this year’s Commonwealth Games to be staged in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The experienced player who plies his trade with Bank of Ghana’s hockey team, Exchequers, would be leading the Black Sticks to their maiden appearance at the Commonwealth Games.
Black Sticks Ladies 18 female squad was named by the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA).
The team is a mixture of youth and experienced players waiting to push-off their first game at the competition.
Two players would be making their debut in the national team while one player being the most capped with 53 appearances.
The players were mainly selected from the Ghana Police Service female hockey team and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) female hockey team with a few from the Ghana National Fire Service and Ghana Army.
The technical department of the team led by Ali Ghazanfar, selected 18 players to represent the country.
The selected players are Goalkeeper Azumah Bridget (24 caps), Boakye Serwaa (48 caps), Coffie Ernestina (36 caps), Copson Hagiet (debutant), Umaru Nafisatu who will captain the team has 49 caps Sulemana Adizatu (19 caps), Amoako Cecilia (53 caps), Opoku Elizabeth (51 caps), Afriyie Lydia (30 caps), Sarfoa Martha (36 caps), Berko Mavis (19 caps), Narkuor Vivian (24 caps), Goalkeeper Boye Abigai (10 caps).
The rest are Bamfo Racheal (51 caps), Sarfo Roberta (18 caps), Otoo Eleanor (debutant), Antwi Doris, and Okine Dede who have 4 caps.
Coach Ghazanfar would be assisted by Abass Ramatu and Patrick Taylor with Ankomah Grace as Team Manager, Adangabey Gaetan would join the team as their Physiotherapist.
Ghana is in Pool A together with India, England, Wales, and Canada.
The team would play their first game on Friday, July 29 against India, followed by England on July 30, then Wales on August 1, and wrap up the group matches with Canada on August 2.
Although it would be a tough competition, the team hopes to do well.
South Africa women have their own skillful star who can cause chaos among even the most solid of defenses in the form of Onthatile Zulu. Only 22, the forward was a star at both the Junior and Senior Women’s World Cups and when she starts to run at defenses, onlookers hold their breath wondering what magic will be on show. At the other end of the pitch, another star of the Junior World Cup is Jean-Leigh du Toit. An ace defender and a brave first runner on defensive penalty corners, du Toit is a crucial part of the South Africa defense.
The men’s side are in pool A together with Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Scotland.