Three years ago, when Bukom Square received an Astroturf pitch, audience stands, and floodlights for nighttime play, the community was elated. It was a moment of pride and excitement.

Finally, they had a proper venue to nurture football talent, much like they had done for boxing over the years.

The Astroturf quickly became the heart of the community. Day and night, you could find people playing football, honing their skills, and dreaming of future glory. It was more than just a football ground; it was a symbol of hope and opportunity for the young athletes of Bukom.

However, the joy was short-lived. Today, what was once a bustling football ground is now a scene of neglect and decay. The artificial grass, once lush and green, is now torn and worn, revealing dusty ground underneath. The fence meant to protect the field has been ripped apart, allowing debris and rubbish to accumulate on the pitch.

The floodlights, turf, and seating have all deteriorated significantly, reflecting the sorry state of the once-praised facility. Some of the residents are unhappy with the current state of the turf.

According to Benjamin Amartey Tagoe, a resident of Bukom, the pitch’s deterioration was attributed to poor contractor work, mismanagement, and the community’s role in its failure.

“A lot of factors contributed to the deterioration of the pitch. The contractor did a lousy job, and there was mismanagement. Plus, we, the community, also played a role in why the pitch didn’t last,” he said.

However, another resident expressed his dissatisfaction, “lack of maintenance too counts; the people responsible for the maintenance of the park were not taking good care of it. Boys from Bukom also claiming they should be allowed to do whatever they want.”

The Bukom Astroturf is not the only one in shambles; the Kawukudi Astroturf has also seen better days. It was funded by the One Constituency, One Million Dollars program through the Infrastructure For Poverty Eradication Program (IPEP) under the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives.

Unfortunately, parts of the artificial pitch are completely worn out, putting footballers who play on the pitch in danger. The stands are in a deplorable state. Cattle, seemingly puzzled by the artificial green grass, encroach upon the pitch through the ripped fence to graze. The pitch is home to waste materials.

When the rain comes pouring down, the Astroturf transforms into a soggy, waterlogged mess. Puddles form on the surface. The once smooth and uniform surface now appears battered and worn, with patches of exposed earth peeking through the gaps in the sodden turf.

As the rain intensifies, the artificial grass, once lush and green, begins to show signs of distress. The thin layer of plastic fibers starts to peel away, revealing the underlying soil. With each downpour, the grass folds under the weight of the water, creating uneven patches across the field.

The peeling and folding of the artificial grass resemble the wrinkles on a crumpled piece of paper, only here it’s a testament to the wear and tear inflicted by the relentless rain.

The combination of waterlogging and peeling grass not only makes playing football impossible but also poses safety hazards for anyone attempting to use the field. It’s a frustrating sight for the community, who had once hoped that the astroturf would provide a reliable space for recreation and sports, only to find it succumbing to the elements with each passing storm.

Tabiru Idrisu, a resident of Kawukudi, expressed his displeasure with the current state of the facility.

“This Astroturf doesn’t benefit us because they didn’t even do it well, as you can see this is not Astroturf, but rather a swimming pool. Last I listened to vice president Bawumia that they are building about 150 Astroturf but I don’t know whether this is included because this is not an Astroturf.”

The Awutu Senya Pitch
The Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya East, Hawa Koomson, was excited that the pitch would aid young people to chase their sports dreams.
The Astroturf pitch in Kasoa, once a perfect facility for young athletes, has been replaced by worn-out artificial grass, leaving former players upset. The pitch, handed over in 2021, was designed to support young people’s sports dreams.

Three years down the lane, the pitch cannot be recognized. Yards of the artificial grass have completely worn out. Now, the beautiful pitch is back to the old “Sakora” pitch.

This has left players who used to play on the pitch feeling upset. A resident, Kwesi Nuru, who used to play on the Astroturf, expressed poor player performance due to the unavailability of the Astroturf.

“We used to play on the pitch every weekend, and it was awesome. But now that it’s unavailable, our performance as players has taken a hit,” he said. “It’s really frustrating; we don’t have any football parks nearby, so we have to rent a pitch every time we want to play. The Astroturf used to bring.”
Are Astroturf pitches worth the investment?

The idea was worth the political buy-in, prompting the Akufo-Addo-led government. From 2017 to 2024, the government’s 2023 performance tracker indicates that 106 pitches have been constructed. But are they in good shape?

When the Government started constructing these Astroturfs in 2018, the estimated price was $250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars) for each. By mid-2022, the cost for new Astroturf pitches had jumped to $350,000 (Three Hundred and fifty thousand US dollars).

Around the same time, the GNPC Foundation said it had since 2018, funded a total of 32 Astroturf facilities across the country which were at various stages of completion with varying costs ranging from $997,337.00 (nine hundred and ninety-seven thousand, three hundred and thirty-seven) to $2,366,668.00 (two million, three hundred and sixty-six thousand, six hundred and sixty-eight cedis).

The Chief Executive Officer of the Coastal Development Authority, Jerry Ahmed, last year said the Bukom field would be renovated and handed over to a private entity to maintain it.

“We will rather do them and run them at the rate at which you want to pay, and that’s what we are going to do. So, we are going to get a private person to get in, and they’re already on board,” he said.

Robert Coleman, the Chief Executive of Wembley Sports Construction Company, indicated that poor management and regular maintenance of Astroturfs can lead to their decay.

“If you don’t manage it well and you don’t do regular and formative maintenance, the Astroturf will decay. A classic example is what we have in Bukom; that Astroturf has not been managed properly at all. When people sponsor the construction or the installation of the Astroturf, what I know from the Ghana Gas perspective is that they hand it over to the various assemblies so that they will do the management and the maintenance,” he stated.

How could the government invest over $37,100,000 thirty-seven million, one hundred thousand dollars in constructing 106 pitches without considering a maintenance plan?

Source: Ghana/ Ama Agyemang