Ghana Rugby League has stepped up their preparations for the 2019 MEA Championship, due to be held in Lagos, Nigeria from 2-5 October. The Leopards first came on the rugby league radar in July 2014 when hosting the GB Student Pioneers at the El-Wak Sports Stadium in Accra.
Pirates half back Philip Asomani and Panthers back rower Samuel Adu Aboagye-Sarpong are the only two players from that historic clash to retain their places in the 22-man squad, the bulk of which comes from the University of Ghana Inter-Hall competition and the newly-formed domestic league.
Nana Prempeh, GRLA president commented: “The sport’s recent growth over a short period of time – less than a year – sends clear intentions. The youth in particular are holding it in high esteem. Rugby league continues to be very popular within the confines of the university sport’s directorate.”
He continued: “The MEA Championship 2019 is an historic event for Ghanaians, an opportunity for a handful to realize their dream playing for the national side and a scenario to point to the Ministry of Youth and Sports to turn an eye to the sport. This has generated a lot of zeal for the Ghana team to put the nation on the sporting map.”
“We have had over 100 players to select from domestically within our local club structure – Bulls, Panthers, Pirates and Skolars – meaning our players have had more exposure to the game at a higher level than ever before,” noted team manager Jafaru Awudu Mustapha. “The chance for some to appear as part of Africa United in the London 9s has also helped.”
One of the local players to watch is Riddick Abrokwah Alibah, who plays in the back row for Skolars RLFC. “We are really keen to see him in action,” Mustapha added. “He embodies all we are about and has been at the forefront of training at our camps in and around Accra over the last four months of intense preparation. This Sunday (29 September) will see the final training session of the programme take place in the capital, alongside the arrival of the UK players and head coach Andy Gilvary as we make our way to the tournament.”
Gilvary stated: “The intention is to bring everyone involved who has made this project possible together to celebrate and to also set our standards for the tournament. We are set for an exciting Championship, we will be ready.”
GHANA 22-MAN SQUAD : Marcus Alexander Amate Neil, Albert Abeku Amonoo Nelson (Brixton Bulls), Benjamin Anane, Collins Kweku Ofosu, Desmond Atsu Geotrah, Nigel Nii Ampim Sackey, On Yelib Oliver Puman (Bulls – Ghana), Reece Connor Rance (Coventy Bears), Samuel A. Aboagye Sarpong, Darryl Amoatey, Nasiru Abdul Latif, Eric Tettegah (Panthers – Ghana), Philip Asomani, John Bless Mensah, Enoch Abam Niikoi (Pirates – Ghana), Alibah Riddick Nana Abrokwa, Isaac Jordan Annan, Elikem Koesi Asafo, Richard Amevor, Chris Da Gama, Michael Quaye, William Pearce Biney (Skolars – Ghana)