Ghanaians eat, sleep, and breathe soccer, and with the World Cup in full swing, national pride is at an all-time high. In preparation for tonight’s big game against Germany, the group headed to an outdoor marketplace to load up on Ghana gear. After purchasing our jerseys, we went to the local sports bar to join the Ghanaians in rooting for their team.
Upon arrival, we immediately became the most popular people in the restaurant. The locals loved seeing foreigners cheering for Ghana, and frequently asked to take photos with us. We even got them to throw up the O (Go Ducks!)
During the game, I talked with a local named Benjamin. We discussed his passion for playing soccer, and he showed me photos of himself during his time on a traveling team. We also talked about the death of his father, and his job driving taxis, which he does to pay for his schooling and to put food on the table for his mother. On the surface, we seemed to have nothing in common. My soccer skills are slim to none, and I am fortunate enough to have two living parents who financially support me. Even with these great differences, I couldn’t help but feel connected to Benjamin while we cheered on the Black Stars.
As I stood up and screamed with my new Ghanaian friend, I discovered the true value in sports. Yes, they are entertaining. But, more importantly, they have the ability to bring together people of all different races, cultures, and backgrounds. During the game, the things that divided us suddenly became obsolete. Our commonality in cheering on Ghana was all that mattered.
After a 2-2 tie with Germany, Ghana’s hopes at advancing to the next round of the World Cup are still alive. I look forward to cheering on the team again next Thursday with my roommates, the locals, and my new Ghanaian “brother,” Benjamin.