My Ghana trip was a great success thanks to all your donations, I traveled over to Ghana this winter for two weeks with five bags full of new and donated soccer equipment. I wanted to give you a short report of how it went but that quickly became a very long one so when you get a chance please take a look and make sure the boys also read it.
Your donations went towards buying a lot of brand new coaching kit for the 3 teams we currently help, this included 48 soccer balls, pumps, soccer ball bags, 150+ cones, shin guards and much more. (You can see a photo of all the kit in the Facebook album, the link is below)
To give your an idea of some of the cultural difference in Ghana, as I arrived to the host families house I was staying at the lady helped me carry in my bags, instead of carrying it with her hands she casually put it on her head and walked into the house, that was a quick reminder that I was now in Ghana not New York.
The first club I visited is called Madina Manchester United (believe it or not I didn't give them this name, they chose it themselves but I do approve) I arrived to the field with the children cheerfully chanting "Obroni! Obroni!" this means 'White man' in the local language. The club fell victim to some american business men from Dallas who exploited them by using the clubs name to enter tournaments to try and sell players they selected from other clubs, they didn't select any players from Madina or give them any money\kit. Madina then called Dallas Texans changed their name and reported this to the Ghana FA. Now they are once again independent they are struggling to buy soccer balls and kit to even practice with. This is the newest team we work with and they were very grateful to receive all the donated equipment, I also gave the head coach lots of ideas for his practices and we worked out ways to improve the clubs structure. As with all the teams we help I did a talked with all the players about the dangers of fake agents and people trying to exploit them, something they are all now aware of, we also strongly encourage and promote the importance of staying in School while looking to become a footballer.
The second club I visited is Cantonments FC, this is the first club we ever worked with in Ghana back in 2011. We have helped them develop
their coaching methods and the structure of the club, when we return we observe to see how they are progressing. With the club always bringing in new players and the youth players now older we still give our talk about fake agents, this is a club that we have had some great success stories preventing players from being victims of fake agents and these boys also say a couple of words to help promote the awareness of the issues. Its great to see the club develop and to speak with those players we have helped. In some cases preventing the player from being robbed of all his money is life changing and it couldn't be done without all your help and donations, the boys are well aware who makes the donations and are very grateful.
The third academy that we work with is LA Future Stars in Labardi. This club is part of a school set up by one of the most inspiring men I have ever met called Billa. He started out by educating children under a mango tree when he finished work, many kids in ghana are to poor to go to school and having struggled to pay for school himself he did not want to see so many young children go without an education, he added a football team to the school to get the local boys interested. He now has over 300 students in mainstream school or his own volunteer run school in Labardi, he gets help from all over the world but still struggles to make ends meet, I can tell you now you will never meet a more decided man to doing good for others. We provided the club with some equipment and also give him some advice on what sessions to run. Our talks focussed more on the importance of staying in school to become a footballer. While coaching at the club we only have a very small area to play, this is right next to a big area full of burning piles of garbage and is also the local outdoor toilet. When I spoke to Billa he said he was raising money to have the field cleared and build a 2nd football pitch that can be used by his club and the local community, with all of your kind donations in Brooklyn we are able to paid for this field to be built and Billa can not thank you all enough, it is going to mean so much to the children and the local people. I will update you on the progress of the field and send some photos of the current condition it is in.
My visit to Ghana also allowed me to get some advice from one of the top academies in the world ‘Right To Dream’ based in central Ghana. The academy recruits player from the whole of africa and provides them with accommodation and full education along with the chance to play around the world, over 95% of the players have progressed to play in Europe or the American college system.
I also got the chance to help out at a local special needs school, though this is not part of our project it is something close to my heart and a great way to help the local community, we provided them with some football equipment and even have a small game with some of the pupils. It I a truly inspiring school and I got to spend a couple of days working with the children, most of the boys live for football. My highlight was when one of the pupils asked me what football team I supported, I told him Manchester United and he laughed his head off, he then nudged his friend and told him, the pair of them laughed at me for a good couple of minutes and said Man U are now rubbish...
Again I can not thank you all enough for all the donations you have given. Being able to provide so much equipment to so many people was only possible thanks to you, being able to have funds to build a new pitch is unbelievable and means so much to the people of Ghana.
Please check out all the photos on our facebook page, you can use this public link even if you do not have a account.