In 2008 the Sprite Basketball Championship was instituted to replace the old fashioned National basketball tournament.
A competition that saw Achimota SHS win the maiden edition.
The Sprite Ball initiative has since changed the face of high school basketball and increased the patronage of the sport across the country. With so much pomp and pageantry, the championship marked another wave of rivalry among high schools as it heightened the “Best school argument”.
At a point, schools like Armed Forces Senior High Technical School, Opoku Ware SHS, Ghana secondary Technical School, Keta SHS and Presec-Osu all enjoyed some glorious moment upon winning the trophy since the inception of the championship, as temporal winners.
Today it is difficult to trace their road to brilliance, as some of these then notable schools could not even make the cut for Qualification.
Koforidua Secondary Technical School have lost their charm after making 4 consecutive Semi-final berths as their performance this year was a disappointment.
Compatriots Keta SHS have been missing for some time, having showed glimpses of brilliance in previous editions did not even make it this year having been runners up twice already.
Together with Mfanstipim SHS, Keta SHS and KSTS dominated Sprite ball for four to five years as many often described the competition as a three way affair.
Today the tables have turned. It is only Mfantsipim’s System that has survived the years.
Noted for producing quality and some of the finest basketball players, the big boys continue to excite and mesmerize.
It is barely 4 days since Mfantsipim Senior High School established their credentials as the powerhouse of High School basketball.
The gallant Kwabotwe team beat arch-rivals Adisadel college and defending champions PRESEC Osu before whipping stubborn opponents from the West African Senior high school in the final to lift the 2019 Sprite Ball trophy.
Last Saturday’s win only further entrenched the dominance of the ‘red and black’ boys in the game, having won five out of the possible eight finals in which they have appeared in at the Sprite Ball competition.
This is not just an enviable record but an impressive one and as such should be given the reverence due them. Many have now come to believe the assertion that “Mfantsipim is Basketball” – a statement which is all over social media.
What makes the story more admirable was the words uttered by the Head coach of the Cape-coast side even before the start of the tournament this year.
When asked about the chances of his team at the start of the competition, the only comment passed by Coach Owusu was about ‘the existence of good basketball system in their school’, and he was not wrong after all, they did lift the trophy.
Mfantsipim has carved a niche for itself in basketball and has therefore attracted some of the finest Basketball talents from the Junior high school by default.
Unlike other schools who scout through every Junior high school for talents, the 5-time champions claim they only work to build internal talents.
After all, who doesn’t want to win the Sprite Ball. With a good recruitment policy, Kwabotwe opens the doors of the school to students who are keen on achieving academic excellence and pursuing a basketball career, the mainstream legacy has grown over the years.
Coach of Mfanstipim basketball team, Mr. Isaac Kwabina Owusu believes the school grooms students to be basketball stars.
“We include the study of basketball in our scheme especially at to Physical Education Department, and we teach them the basic rules”.
Speaking on how the game could be developed in other schools, the coach also added that the Management of these schools have to take a big step to support the sport with a good basketball court to breed talents in the game.
“Our school’s basketball court is in a bad state, and many will be disappointed if they come to see it, so we had to camp elsewhere, and that’s bad. More basketball courts should be constructed in the High Schools so we can improve performance and produce talents for the under 17 teams and National side” the passionate Mfantsipim coach added.
He also advised that schools should select players from all forms of students to ensure continuity should the old team players leave.
The Sprite Ball Championship has over the years produced players like Max Mode who is now plying his trade in the United States, Wolfe of University of Ghana, Joel Tham and Uchebu formerly of PRESEC-Legon and slot of other talents across the nation and worldwide.
It has been in existence for 12 years.
By: Dampte-Larbi Godfred|Univers Sports|universnewsroom.com