COACHING FOOTBALL TO CHILDREN, NANDOM, NORTHERN GHANA
(16 OCTOBER – 1 NOVEMBER 2008)
Travelling again to the remote town of Nandom in Northern Ghana with the Northampton-based charity group FREED UK (www.freeduk.org) in a party of 14, consisting mainly of medical people, I was intrigued after last year’s visit to Ko A and B schools, to find out how the sports teachers had progressed with the initial set-up of two age groups, U10s and U11s, involving coaching and developing football for children at these two schools.
Disembarking at Accra airport in Ghana, you could be mistaken for thinking you have arrived at your destination, but a 24-hour journey across treacherous roads lies ahead until we reach Nandom, a town just inside the border with Burkina Faso.
It was always my intention to use these two schools that face each other only 100 yards apart as a base for a Soccer School, to serve not only these two schools but also the surrounding area. The plan was to use this second visit as an opportunity to see the sports teachers coaching the existing groups, find out what progress had been made, and to expand the soccer school further by forming more age groups.
I had taken with me over £1,000 of kits and equipment provided by a local sports supplier to add to the equipment already out there which I took with me on my last visit, and which I found to still be in a very good condition.
I was pleased with the progress the teachers had made with the two age groups, having watched and spoken with them, with one of the U10 teams having won a prestige game against a team from another town, so I quickly got to work on forming more age groups, U12s, U13s and also two girls age groups at U14s and U15s. Coaching these children for seven days in temperatures approaching 100 degrees was tough going, but they made the situation easier for me by their concentration levels being of a very high standard. Teams at these age groups were formed and kits supplied to me were given out.
My last two days there were spent running two tournaments, each school supplying teams in the age groups U10s and U11s, and two girls teams at U14s and U15s for the re-run Freed UK Cup, which was initially contested the previous year, and also both schools supplying teams at U12s and U13s for the MDH Sports and Leisure Cup. Both tournaments proved to be a big success, attracting big crowds, with well over 500 attending each of the events, singing and dancing on the touchlines, and everybody generally in good spirits.
Six age groups have been set up now consisting of 10 teams, so the Soccer School is now well and truly formed, something that has never happened in this region before, with a qualified coach never previously having made a visit to this area.
I hope to return and take this project even further, and also to meet again the friendliest group of people one could ever meet.
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