The past few days at work have been quite eventful. On Wednesday afternoon I went to the Accra Sports Stadium to watch the home team, Accra Hearts of Oak, take on AshantiGold. This was the third match I have attended, but it was by far the most exciting. From kickoff it was physical and the fans were rambunctious. It unfortunately ended in a draw, but it was exciting up until the last whistle. What was special about yesterday’s game was that I able to sit in the President’s Box. There were plenty of big wigs there, including the owner of the team, head coach of the national team and a few current European Premier League players. Not to mention, free food and beer at halftime.
I love seeing the dedication fans have towards the game. Every decision the head coach, referee or even players make is highly scrutinized by the fans, and they are relentless. After the coach’s third game this season, he had not won once but had three draws. The fans were furious and demanding that he be fired immediately. Luckily for them, he wasn’t and has now led the team to first place in the league.
On Thursday, my boss and I traveled to city about an hour outside Accra called Prampram. It is home to a training facility for national soccer teams of all ages, but on Thursday it was the meeting place for mangers and groundskeepers from around Ghana to attend a seminar. The seminar was dual sponsored by the GFA and FIFA, and I had the opportunity to meet the President of the GFA, Kwesi Nyantakyi, and also head coach of the men’s national team, Avram Grant. After their opening remarks and a short visit to the pitch in order to watch the U-17 team practice, we had a chance to sit down over lunch and talk.
At the event there was also Dean Gilasbey, a FIFA representative. Once he figured out I was from America (didn’t take too long) all he wanted to talk about was American football. He told me his favorite teams were the Chicago Bears and the University of Oregon Ducks. After revealing to him that I am a current student there, all he wanted to do was to talk football. He told me his goal in the coming years was to travel to Eugene and watch his favorite team play. I told him that I would happily give him a tour of Eugene and accompany him on his inaugural visit to Autzen Stadium.