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Dr William Kwabena Owusu, Brain Specialist: Philosophy of Mind, Psychology and Sports Science, has stated that returning to sport during and post COVID-19 pandemic without preparing the mental state of sports men and women would be a catastrophe for the future of Africa and Ghana.

He said even though government has given the clearance to resume sports, as a specialist he strongly believed sports personalities in the country were not mentally ready.

He said the sporting world was slowly taking shape in Europe and North America, with their mental training programs for their athletes to get back to training, and yet sporting bodies across Africa and Ghana were still unprepared to deal with the mental state of athletes.

In a release issued to the Ghana News Agency, on Monday, in Accra, he said returning to sports without training the mental state of athletes in Africa and Ghana would endanger the future of sports locally and internationally.

He said most athletes in Africa and Ghana were now vulnerable to psychological issues due to the unpredictability and uncontrollability attached to the pandemic, saying as a specialist, the most common response he come across from athletes around the world was shock, confusion, irritability, fear and frustration due to lack of control on issues related to their future career in sports.

“Sports performance is determined by the ability of the mind to operate through physical skill and tactical insight. The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused significant impact on athletes who train and compete. On top of coping with the stresses of regular daily life while training and competing, the pandemic adds complexity that can either result in worsening the underlying existing psychological problem, or it can trigger career termination in sports.”

Dr Owusu said people were affected by their thoughts, which could be destructive or empowering; these thoughts reflect their actions, which would manifest either negatively or positively, thus presenting themselves in certain ways that directly influence performance.

He stated that individuals were the dictators of their thoughts and behaviors: “we are able to control what we think, how we think and when we think, so that we can achieve the expected outcome of our performance.”

He said the brain and the mind were interconnected in the human body as inner tools; thus, the lack of mental training communicates negatively to the body resulting in making us incapable of performing a certain activity and slows the body down, then consequently render us less powerful and less efficient.

Athletes, while playing their sport exert pressure on the mind and face inner conflicts which results in either destruction or elevation of their performance, he added.

He said some common psychological conditions affecting sports men and women resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic includes: inner conflicts, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and tension, individual, teams, and interpersonal coping with the COVID-19 pandemic events, mental state and preparations, and motivation and emotional control.

Others are eating disorders, pressure and performance, adjustment disorders, physical disruptions and lack of confidence, self-confidence and mental toughness, lack of concentration on the field of play, depression, conduct disorder, addictive or substance dependence, and religious belief.