Experience Report From the Football Coaching Project in Ghana
"My Volunteer Work as a Football Coach in Accra"
The arrival in Accra
On April 6th, 2015, after months of preparation, finally came the day on which I started my big "Ghana adventure" ! From Munich Airport, I flew via London Heathrow Airport to Accra, the capital of Ghana. After a 6-hour flight, I arrived there in the evening and was soon able to get a first impression of the temperature change! I started my travel day in Munich at 4 degrees, and finally ended it in Ghana at 30 degrees (at 22.30, local time!!) Although my arrival time was very late, I was allowed to get to know Mama Mina and all her volunteers the same evening.
Great volunteers, heartfelt Mama Mina!
The next morning, during the daily breakfast together, I was able to get to know all the volunteers and I got along with them all very well from the beginning. On this first day in Ghana I was warmly welcomed by Mama Mina and we talked for a long time. Mama Mina was like a second mother to me throughout my stay in Ghana, helping me in every imaginable situation and always listening to me and my problems.
Cultural introduction and safety instructions in the orientation program
With another volunteer, I completed my so-called "Familiarization Week", in which we learned everything important about the country and its culture. This week, for example, we took part in a city tour of Accra, got to know some of Ghana's past, and got a brief introduction to the national language (the Twi) . Mama Mina gave us important tips about how we had to behave in order to make our stay as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Volunteering as a football coach at the children's home
After this orientation program, I was taken to my football project, a children's home about an hour away from Mama Mina's house. Originally, I was there only to help the football team of the children's home as a coach. Since I got countless offers to help and to work, I also helped in other areas in addition to just coaching.
My main task was to assist the coach of the football team as an assistant. I took over parts of the daily training, organized the game operation and took care of the personal concerns of each player.
The daily routine in the football project
I started my day very early (at 5:30 am), because of the heat, the daily training at 6:00 clock had already took place. We trained every day for about 2-3 hours, so we could have breakfast around 9 clock. In theory, my daily tasks would have been done.
Therefore, during the rest of my daily routine, I was always in close contact with the team manager and so we worked every day on organizational matters that affected the team. So while we were in Accra, we managed to create our own Facebook page for the team. In addition, we were able to provide all players with health insurance for two years through a small financial donation and, after some red tape, managed to register all players officially with the Ghanaian Football Association.
Rest after lunch
After lunch, we had a little rest for 1-2 hours. Most of the time I rested for a while, avoided the blazing sun and then started to work with the team manager for another two to three hours. Almost every day, a few players and I met at around 5 pm and still played some football together.
Lots of time for talks
After these (mostly hot games) there was dinner. At the end of each day, the players and I often sat outdoors for a long time, talking late into the night.
League tournaments and weekend outings
It is normal for RGV volunteers to "come home" from their project on the weekend, ie to Mama Mina, and from there to trips throughout the country. The fact that I always had to play a game with my team in the league on Sunday, meant I travelled with others maybe every other week.
Nevertheless, I was able to have some wonderful trips in the most diverse region with the other volunteers. For example, we visited the Volta region and spent the night in the open air. We also made weekend trips to Cape Coast or to Busua, one of the few places in Ghana where tourists from all over the world can be found.
Conclusion: The Ghana adventure was absolutely worth it!
Finally, I can say with conviction that my "Ghana adventure" has been fully worthwhile and that I can only recommend it to anyone still doubtful to do such an experience. To do this experience, to "hit my own" in a completely different world was my motivation for this journey. The fact that I succeeded is my biggest personal achievement! This experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Field report from the football project in Ghana by Ludwig F., 26.01.16