Published July 6th, 2012 in Graphic Sports
Euro 2012: An outsider’s point of view
By Garth Dmyterko
When I decided to come to Accra for an internship in late December, my professor asked me what area of journalism I would like my internship to focus on. I mentioned that I would like something involving sports.
“Sport,” she replied. “There is really only one that matters to Ghanaians.”
After getting my hands on a few issues of The Daily Graphic, I immediately understood what she meant. Based on even one issue of the newspaper it was clear that the sports page started and ended with football.
I will admit that I had not experienced much football before deciding to come to Ghana. A couple live Major League Soccer (America) matches was about all the experience I had with the sport. I grew up in Canada before moving to the United States for university and ice hockey, American football, and basketball dominated my sports interests. However, the thought of coming to a culture which largely ignored those sports and was interested (obsessed even) with a different one excited me.
In an effort to try and become involved with the sport, I attempted to watch as much football as possible before arriving in Accra in late June. Knowing that the duration of the event would stretch into my time in Ghana, Euro 2012 captured my interest the most. I watched as many matches as I could with my friends at my house or at bars but + immediately struck me was how intent everyone in the room was watching the game, with little conversation occurring during play. In North America, when a group gathers to watch a sporting event on television, the actual viewing of the game sometimes gets partially forgotten amid conversation and banter. This is especially true in settings like a restaurant, but here in Accra it was clearly not the case. I found this dedication to the viewing of the event fascinating and with the lack of distractions I found myself watching the matches much more intently than I had been back in the U.S.
Another detail I found fascinating was the loyalty some Ghanaian football fans at this particular establishment had to nations they were not from or have never been to. In North America, a fan might show passive support of a European team in the tournament, but the fans with any real passion were the ones who had been to or had some connection to the European country they were supporting. At The Living Room, after every Spanish goal in the final, an enthusiastic fan would jump out of his seat and cheer loudly despite having told me he had never been to Spain and had little to no connection to the country other than football. This dedication to a country based solely on sport is something I had not witnessed before.
While Euro 2012 is over, I look forward to making more observations and experiencing more of Ghana’s sports culture in the future.