Herbert Amponsah Mensah is the new President of Rugby Africa, the governing body of Rugby in Africa. His emergence followed the conclusion of the Rugby Africa Executive Committee Elections held recently.
Mensah, a renowned Businessman, Sports Administrator, and Philanthropist with a passion for “Moving Africa forward”, is known for his passion for sports and extensive experience in sports administration. He is a believer in the greater good of humanity and always seeks to push the status quo.
He is an alumnus of the Achimota Secondary School in Accra, Ghana, although he completed his O levels in the United Kingdom and later obtained his graduate degree in economics at Sussex University.
In his younger years, he played rugby for Sussex and Saracens. He entered the business world while still a student and gained business experience, among other places, in the tobacco industry in Zimbabwe. His entrepreneurship led to his pursuit of success in the telecommunications industry
Herbert was elected President and Chairman of the Ghana Rugby Football Union in 2014. His tenure in office saw the Union attaining its World Rugby status. He has been instrumental in pushing the game of Rugby in the sub-region.
In addition to his business ventures, Mensah’s passion for sports led him to the coveted seat of Board Chairman of the popular Ghanaian football club Kumasi Asante Kotoko SC which was bestowed on him by the then Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II in 1999. Mensah set out to restore the success of earlier glories of the then-failing club by implementing a five-year plan, which included sponsorships, the introduction of professional training facilities, and a transparent financial approach to their financials.
In March 2023, he was unanimously and overwhelmingly elected President of Rugby Africa
In this interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, The President, Herbert Mensah reiterated his passionate vision for the growth of African Rugby. He also speaks about his priority to continue the work he has already begun, helping rugby progress and grow not just in Africa, but globally. He emphasized his business experience and stated that he would apply it to Rugby Africa, to generate revenues and development opportunities for all member associations.
Below are excerpts:
Firstly, let us congratulates you on your new position as the President of Rugby Africa, we are optimistic about your ability and capacity for growth and development. What are your plans and vision for Rugby Africa?
We’re talking about Rugby, so, therefore, we must make sure that everyone has the right to play and when they do to win! All children with time must be exposed to the beauty of Rugby. Unions must be supported, and structures put into place so that the talented can go on and win. Africa must become winners. Countries like Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Algeria must follow South Africa to the zenith at World Championships.
But to achieve this, we need to recognize that sport is big business and that much needs to change!
What is the most challenging moment while growing up?
Growing up was realizing that my mother was alone but determined to give and make me what I have become today.
Have you fulfilled a dream in your life by going into Rugby sports, share with us your journey into Rugby sports.
Many times over! Playing rugby for my school Kent College and going unbeaten was special. Then I started at Sussex University but switched quickly to Lewes the perennial Country winner was a special moment. My progression thereafter was something I never imagined. Playing for Old Hararians and Mashonaland and an international against Italy was special. When I returned to the UK from Zimbabwe, after the start of the following season, I never imagined progressing to the point of being handed the number 11 shirt for Saracens 1st team against London Scottish!
Sadly, I damaged my left knee badly and never played serious rugby thereafter although I did have another life-fulfilling moment when I arranged the Max Brito charity match in Accra. An ex-Springbok team led by Naas Botha and an England team led by Dean Richards, Tim Rodber, and Martin Johnson played in Ghana and even though I was invited to join both sides I chose to play in the warmup/lead-up match which was Ghana vs. West Africa.
How important is nutrition to your success and performance during your days as a player, what advice would you give to anybody wanting to get fit and improve their health?
Nutrition is everything. I have always been a student of sports nutrition creating a program that is workable for all depending on where they are. I’m deeply conscious of the need to eat a balanced diet and to respect carbs, fats, and protein. Not everything is bad and not everything is good! Fruits and vegetables high in anti-oxidants are also very important.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Helping others. My May 9th Charity and what it has achieved for over two decades and now my involvement with the Shen Yang and Shen Yuet Children’s Heart Foundation is saving children’s lives. Children with hole-in-the-heart conditions.
As the new president, will you consider advocating and campaigning for Rugby sports to youths to reduce unemployment in Africa?
I will be advocating and campaigning for Rugby for all and especially children. It will not reduce unemployment, but it will help foster new and wonderful values for all. Respect, integrity, etc. are fundamental to Rugby and life in general.
You have visited many countries, what would you advise the African leaders?
African leaders need to help to break barriers and encourage us to work together. Executive power in leadership is everything and therefore change can be simple.
African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. What do you like about African Culture?
African culture is unique to Africans which is why one of our slogans is “Africa as one”. We need to love and respect where we came from before we can possibly understand where we are going.
African Development Magazine would like to be part of promoting Rugby sports in Africa and coverage of your activities, would you facilitate and support this development?
Absolutely….. we are about to embark on an exciting and difficult journey. An African journey into the global world to conquer and be the best. Africans are multi-faceted and can play many sports!
Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?
What advice would you give the younger ones?
Younger people are smarter than we give them credit, but I do ask that they exercise patience whilst sticking to their principles. This is their time. They must seize it with dignity and respect. Remember ….. do unto others as you would they do to you!
Thanks for sharing with us