Sports in Ghana by David Flaschner
1st4sport FA Level 2 Football Coaching, Bachelors Degree in Classical Civilisation
Coaching football at a local primary school and youth club
David travelled to Ghana, West Africa, for 11months, using his skills and experience as a football coach to help a football club in a disadvantaged area. This is what he had to say about the project:
"My time in Ghana was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was able to work with Ghanaian coaches and players of all ages, teaching them different ways to train and also learning from their methods. The club had a real family atmosphere and I got the chance to learn some of the local language, help with the cooking for parties and even get some tips from the players to improve my African dancing! Above all, I felt that the skills I had to offer made a difference and I formed friendships that are still going strong now that I am back home."
The Project Partner
Rama Kudolo was born and raised in the Cantonments area of Accra, Ghana. He is the Head Coach of Cantonments Football Club and has been working with the club since 2000. The club aims to provide talented players of all ages from the local community with the chance to participate in sport and work towards gaining a professional contract. With plenty of experience of playing and coaching Ghanaian football, Rama was able to help David adjust to his new surroundings and offer advice about the mentality of Ghanaian players and how to get the best out of them. At the same time, he is a keen student of the game and was excited to learn new ideas and training methods from David in order to improve the team.
Role of the Volunteer
David’s role at the football club included the following:
- Helping to oversee the day-to-day management of the club such as ensuring that staff were paid, water was provided for players etc.
- Assisting the Head Coach with the handling of an agreed operating budget.
- Using his knowledge of current training methods to produce a long-term Development Plan, detailing future changes to the structure of the club and a progression of age-appropriate training material.
- Working with coaching staff to plan and deliver weekly training sessions, ensuring that every player received high-quality, age-appropriate tasks as outlined in the club’s Development Plan.
- Being responsible for the conduct and wellbeing of all staff, volunteers and players at the club.
- Organising and running training clinics in order to pass on his knowledge to Projects Abroad volunteers working with other clubs.
- Observing training sessions in order to assess coaching staff, offer advice and set goals for their development which he then evaluated with the Head Coach later in the season.
- Taking on non football-related tasks and projects assigned by the Head Coach such as fund-raising, organising the purchase of equipment or supervising the construction of club facilities etc.
- Helping to raise awareness and secure the long-term future of the club by obtaining sponsorship from overseas clubs and businesses.
Benefits to the community
The work of Rama over the years and David’s added help have combined to provide the following benefits to the local community:
- The club provides a focus which unites the community, with local families and fans watching the games and supporting the players.
- Each player receives a small fee for playing in their weekly match that is taken home to their family to help with the cost of food and schooling.
- The players are provided with the plenty of social interaction to help them develop as people.
- The chance of children becoming involved in crime is greatly reduced because they feel part of a large family and are encouraged to act responsibly.
- The children are provided with life skills that can be used in the future outside the club and in the community.
During David’s time in Ghana he lived with a Ghanaian host family who looked after him and provided meals. His host mother was Mrs Grace Cudjoe, a widower who lives not far from Cantonments Football Club in the district of Dzorwulu (pronounced Jo-Lu) and shares her house with two young Ghanaian helpers, Pious and Juliet, as well as up to five Projects Abroad volunteers. By living with a Ghanaian family, David was able to learn about the community’s culture and history, taste dishes such as Fu-Fu and Banku and pick up some of the local language, Twi. Mrs Cudjoe was also interested to hear about his friends and family in the UK and by coincidence, they discovered that both David and Mrs Cudjoe’s sister had studied for a degree at Leeds University.
David also experienced a different way of life at the football club where he was introduced to Rama’s family and became great friends with fellow members of the coaching staff such as Richard and Kofi. He was even invited to a traditional ‘naming ceremony’, similar to a christening, when one of the coaches, Noah, had a baby daughter. Many of the players lived in the local area, which meant that there was always someone around at any time of the day for David to talk to, share food with or help with homework. They were all fanatical about English football so David was able to make an instant connection and talk to them about life back in the UK. While they were fascinated by England and Premiership football teams, many of the players were also determined to expose David to the sights, sounds and football of their own country. He was taken to watch two matches during the 2008 Cup of African Nations, taught how to cook local dishes and shown the correct way to shake hands with a Ghanaian. By the end of his stay in Ghana, David had gained a massive amount from his interaction with local people, both through learning about their culture and teaching them about his own.