I decided to do some volunteering, as I wanted to experience something new and out of my comfort zone during my summer holidays. I first heard of Projects Abroad from a friend who had done a similar project with them before. He convinced me to join by describing how amazing his experience was and how friendly the people from Projects Abroad are. As a football fanatic and someone who has always loved Africa, choosing Ghana as my destination was a no brainer!
My host family
I arrived in Ghana on a Saturday in June and I was driven to my host family in South La in Labadi. Here, I was greeted by Hajara and Priscilla. They made me feel welcome and helped me with any problems or questions I had. I really enjoyed living with a host family, as it enabled me to gain a rich experience of Ghanaian life and culture.
I was also lucky enough to be living with another volunteer who was doing the Football Project, which really helped me to settle in quicker, as he gave me advice on what training drills to do, introduced me to other volunteers, and helped me get to my placement. This was especially useful during my first week adapting to a new country.
The location of the host family was great for several reasons. Firstly, it only took a five-minute ride in a tro-tro to get to my placement, which allowed me plenty of time to prepare my training sessions in the morning and to visit the local area. It was also close to areas such as Oxford Street and Arts Centre, where I spent most of my weekends shopping or simply walking around.
Moreover, there were plenty of bars and restaurants nearby where I could socialise with other volunteers who lived in the area. I recommend getting to know other volunteers as they make you feel much more comfortable. You never know, you may make friends for life!
Finally, the host family was only a five-minute drive away from Labadi Beach Hotel, which is a great place to spend your weekends relaxing by the beach, using the Wi-Fi, and swimming in the pool. I spent a full day there with two other volunteers and had a great time.
My Football placement
My time with Cantonments FC was really enjoyable. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful and were always able to answer any questions I had. I can honestly say that I became good friends with the other coaches and I am still in contact with them to this day. The team manager, Ali, even invited me to his house for lunch, which was an amazing act of kindness. I felt welcome right from the start and it felt as though I was a member of a big family.
To join this project, it is not a necessity to have any coaching experience or even to be particularly good at football, but I would recommend getting a coaching guide in order to have as big an impact as possible. You will also need an open mind and high levels of adaptability at this placement.
I spent most of my time coaching the under 13s. I was given a lot of responsibility in this role and the freedom to do whatever training sessions I wanted. Although this was daunting at times, I felt that I learned a lot dealing with the children and I hope that I was able to make them better footballers.
I would like to emphasise that the members of Cantonments FC would welcome any gifts such as footballs, bibs, cones, football kits or football boots from volunteers.
Ghana in general
My time in Ghana was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life. The Ghanaian people are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever come across. They have a very interesting view of the world and are extremely philosophical in their thinking. They are also very positive and enthusiastic, despite some of their difficult personal issues.
I made some great friends, including some of the players in the first team, the coaches and even some of the locals who had nothing to do with my project. One thing I found amazing about Ghana was the fact that when I got lost, people would walk with me all the way to where I wanted to go rather than just giving me directions. This epitomises the Ghanaian people’s kindness and willingness to help others.
I hope to return to Ghana one day and visit all the people I had a close bond with. For anyone wanting to do this placement, I thoroughly recommend it and can guarantee that you will have one of the best experiences of your life.