World Cup Feature: Ghana’s international rowing athlete
It is not at every regatta that we see an entry from Ghana at an international rowing event. In fact, the Samsung World Rowing Cup I here in Sydney, Australia is the first ever time a team from Ghana has attended such a regatta. But it looks like it won’t be the last time.
World Rowing caught up with Ghana’s international lightweight single sculler, John Boafo to talk about him and his nation’s future in rowing.
Born the son of a diplomat, Boafo spent his formative years living in France which is where he had his first experience of rowing. “One of my friends takes credit for getting me into rowing,” he laughs. “I didn’t do any sports and on Wednesdays in France you don’t have school classes in the afternoon so he told me to come along rowing with him. I started and have continued ever since! Then I went to the US and rowed there at the University of Georgia.” During his time as part of the US university rowing system Boafo raced in 30 different states and believes that learning the art of rowing in different countries has made a positive impact on his development in the sport.
Rowing in Ghana is one of the focus countries for FISA’s development programme. As part of this programme, Ghana was given a fleet of boats to help develop rowing in the nation but they have not yet made it on to the water as they have been held at the border by customs. Boafo is acutely aware of the impact that these boats could have on rowing in his homeland and is anxious that the issues holding the boats be resolved quickly. “We are trying to go on TV and do some more interviews in the hope that it will put some pressure on them,” he says.
Ghanaians participating in rowing events is a new phenomenon and so Boafo’s participation in the World Cup in Sydney has gone under the radar in Ghana . “It’s one of those things that you really have to push and put pressure (on the media) to make them realise that it’s an Olympic sport and an important sport. There’s great potential in Ghana with all of our lakes and even coastal rowing, that we could grow.”
Boafo may not be featuring on the podium in Sydney this weekend but he is determined to progress his rowing skills at a steady pace. “I want to be ready for the African Championships and do well there,” he explains. “This is my first race in a couple of years so I want to test myself. When I was in the US I mostly sweep rowed and so when I went back to sculling it was tough, but a local Sydney-based coach, Ciaran Glynn, has been helping me out so I’m getting better!”