Although I had no coaching experience and was a pretty average player, Sporting Opportunities gave me the opportunity to coach football in Ghana. Three other coaches and I were taken to my village on the Wednesday, ready to start coaching for a tournament on the Sunday. The children were between nine and 21 and arrived en masse (about 75 of them) ready for a ‘super session’ from their European coach. With only seven balls and 18 cones, there wasn’t much I could do but I split the groups up and got them playing five-a-side football, which went down very well.
The session was great fun and, to my surprise, they applauded me afterwards. They even cleaned my kit and polished my boots in preparation for the next day. After some drills and a practice match during my early morning coaching session, I selected a squad of 18 players ready for the tournament. That evening the other coaches came to my village for a drink. The local spirit was pretty strong so we ended up trying to catch goats. We failed miserably and all ended up in a ditch.
The day of the tournament arrived and my village team played against the other Sporting Opportunities village teams. The atmosphere was great with loud African music booming throughout the match. Sadly, my team lost the semi-final on penalties. I didn’t feel too gutted though, since it had been such a good laugh. I must have looked upset as one of my players came up to me and said ‘Mr Rob, don’t worry, it’s only a game’. Indeed it is I thought, but what a crazy, unpredictable and passionate game it is in Ghana.