Claim: Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia claimed that there were only two astroturfs in Ghana before they came into government in 2017.
Verdict: Misleading. Searches from the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and Google Maps revealed more than two astroturfs in Ghana before Dr Bawumia’s NPP government came into power.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia claimed that before his government came into office, only two astroturfs were constructed in the country. The claim was made in a local dialect, “Twi”, during a walk with some New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters in the Eastern Region as part of the Easter celebrations in Kwahu.
“When you look at sports facilities, there were only two astroturfs in the whole of Ghana before we came into government. Today it’s over 80, and every constituency is getting one.” Dr Bawumia said.
UTV Ghana has published the claim on Twitter and TV3 on Facebook. On these social media platforms, it has garnered over 40,000 views.
On Twitter, the claim can be found from 1:19 to 1:31, while on Facebook, it can be found from 1:17 to 1:29.
An astroturf is a surface of synthetic fibres that look like natural grass, used in sports arenas and residential lawns.
DUBAWA first needed to put the claim made by the Vice President into context before proceeding to verify it. Was the Vice President talking about astroturfs in general or publicly funded astroturfs?
While it may appear the Vice President was referring to publicly funded (state-sponsored) astroturfs in Ghana, it was important for the researcher to seek clarity from his office before investigating the claim.
DUBAWA reached out to Dr Gideon Boako, the Spokesperson for Dr Bawumia, to get more clarity on the claim. We sought to find out whether the claim by the Vice President was subject to private or state-sponsored astroturfs. However, all our efforts through calls and WhatsApp messages proved futile, as seen in the screenshot below.
His failure to respond notwithstanding, DUBAWA went ahead to investigate the claim.
In our search, we found many astroturfs built before 2017, even though many of them were privately owned.
We found a news article on myjoyonline.com dated April 7, 2016, with the headline, “Bechem United train on astroturf in preparation for Inter Allies tie.” The news article revealed that the training on the astroturf was held on the premises of the Al Rayan International School facility at East Legon. DUBAWA decided to use Google Maps to determine if the school had turf. It was revealed the school had a turf popularly known as ARIS turf in East Legon. A further search revealed a picture of the turf taken by Mustapa Houri in May 2016. This shows the turf was in existence before 2017, and it is privately owned.
A further search also revealed that in December 2016, the Ghana Football Association unveiled an astroturf at the Ghanaian Soccer Centre for Excellence at Prampram in the Ningo Prampram District in Accra. According to the news website footyghana.com, the turf was constructed under the “FIFA goal project,” an initiative by FIFA to reduce the sports infrastructural gap between the developed and the underdeveloped nations in Africa, Asia and South America.
At Kotobabi, a suburb of Accra, Wembley Construction Company Limited constructed a sporting complex to enhance sporting activities in the area. This included an astroturf, as reported by graphic.com on September 2, 2016. A Google Maps verification that showed pictures of the turf revealed that, as of 2022, the astroturf was still available for use.
In June 2016, as reported by graphic.com, Right To Dream (RTD) Academy, which nurtures many football talents, constructed a multi-purpose astroturf in Kumasi.
A search also revealed that the West African Football Academy (WAFA), formerly Feyenoord Football Academy, had an astroturf pitch in 2015 at Sogagokpe. This was captured in a news report by newsghana.com when the local Black Stars trained on their artificial pitch to prepare for their 2016 CHAN return leg qualifier against Ivory Coast in Abidjan.
More evidently, DUBAWA used Google Maps to determine if the turf was still available. We discovered with the map’s satellite view that the turf is still available.
Also, in 2008 the Tema Sports Stadium was constructed with an artificial pitch. According to the Ghana Football Association, the stadium was funded by FIFA’s ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ project. The availability of the stadium was made known when sports website ghanasoccernet.com in 2021 reported that the Tema District Football Association chairman Dasoberi Adu Asare appealed to the government to consider the Tema Sports Stadium as part of its One District, One Astro-Turf project due to its deplorable state.
The claim by Dr Bawumia that only two astroturfs were constructed before they came into power in 2017 is completely false.