Ghana Soccer is A Carnival of
Pride, Power and Passion
Ghana soccer is entertainment – pure and simple. In many ways it’s also a religion and any religion is in part determined by the passion and fervour of it’s followers.
Some more passionate that others – it seams. How else can you explain this picture?
I came across this guy several times at the recent MTN African Cup of Nations which – luckily for me – was held in Ghana this year.
I’m sure I also came across him – or someone pretending to be him!- at the FIFA World Cup in Germany 2006. What a tournament!
The Black Stars, lead by their great captain and leader, Stephen Appiah, gave us plenty to shout about.
Even the neutrals were rooting for us. And many took full advantage of the perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity and revelled in following the Ghana soccer carnival of drums, trumpets, food and laughter.
And like any carnival, there seemed to be no end to the festivities – win, draw or lose!
In case you’re wondering, NSU stands for the National Supporters Union.
Not all Ghanaian football fans are as barmy as our friend in the picture above.
However many are great players and all of them are expert coaches.
Hence the saying in Ghana soccer circles that everybody is a coach!
My Uncle Ricky (aka People’s Lover) is one such supporter. I remember a visit home one year when Accra Hearts of Oak – his beloved team and the oldest existing club in Ghana – lost a game and he refused to eat. Not me, I couldn’t afford the luxury of turning down a plate of banku and okra stew on account of a football match!
Nicknamed, Phobia, Hearts was formed in 1911 and I have actually been in the building the first meeting of members took place – courtesy of my cousin Afro Joe. I also saw and touched the famous oak tree that the club took its name after.
As a kid growing up in Accra, it seemed that everybody supported Hearts. But my dad being from Teshie, I supported Heart’s city rivals, Great Accra Olympics.
Oly – as they are affectionately called – became known as the Wonder Club on the account of their ability to pull off seemingly impossible wins when least expected. No victory is sweeter, however, than against Hearts. Hence no food for Uncle Ricky that fateful day!
Alas the introduction of soccer in Ghana was not down to the Accra boys. Cape Coast (in the Central Region) was the birth place of Ghana soccer – in the early 20th Century.
Apparently, the credit goes to a group from a local Government Boys School and their Jamaican Headmaster, Mr. Brittin.
Accra, though, has the distinction of having the first football club in Ghana when Invicibles was formed in James Town in 1910.
Such is the rivalry in anything in Ghana, a year later another club was quickly organised. That team, Accra Hearts of Oak, is the oldest existing club in Ghana.