Football in the mud

Today we spent the morning filming with Coach Tony and some of the kids he teaches.  His league has more than 70 kids, but today we watched a smaller group of about 20 practicing on the field adjacent to Que Que Boys School (at which Tony is the football coach).

I don’t recall that I wrote about the huge storm that came through here, friday night, but it was terrific indeed.  It came on with no warning and in a matter of a few minutes Cape Coast (or at least my bedroom in the Siwdu neighborhood at the edge of Cape) was enmeshed in thunder and lightning.  In thirty seconds my bedroom dropped at least ten degrees ferenheit as the wind blew directly into it, covering my netbook screen with mist.  Our porch accumulated easily 2″ of standing water, and this is considering the porch is well above the level of the yard and the street.

In Cape we have seen some pretty torrential rain, and some good lightning, but this was truly awesome.  I now understand why so many of the gutters are six or eight feet wide and five or more feet deep.

At about five in the morning today a slightly less intense storm rolled through, and we were worried our football practice might be canceled.  Almost all of the kids came, though, and played happily in the mud.  Tony had a lot of passionate things to say about Ghana’s sense of community and helping one’s fellow human, partly bolstered by the fact that his American visa application was just denied (without much cause, if you ask me).

I feel very bad, talking to a guy who puts his own time and money into coaching kids, to acquiring gear and supplies for them, into traveling and developing his own skills so he can better teach them, when he tells me his one-week visit to a soccer training seminar in the US is blocked by my own country’s conservative visa policies.  I don’t even know what to say, other than to tell him that I understand, having seen my own brother and his wife (who is not a citizen) battle with the challenges of immigration.

Here is a guy who has maybe three or four thousand dollars saved up, who has traveled in europe, who has a college degree, who well understands the paradigm of soccer/football — that his prospects for employment in the states (especially if he stayed illegally in violation of his visa) would be very minimal, and his savings would last a month or two at best, or that he could live for years in Ghana on that same money, foster youth and develop their talent, and simultaneously improve his own career prospects here (where he can work legally, and where football is very, very popular).  Why with his education, savings, sponsoring organization in the States, US immigration would consider him too much a risk is beyond me, and I was at a loss to give him the answer he was looking for.

I don’t want to preach here, there are many different views on immigration, and I am not qualified to say what is most valid, I can only say what I have seen, and in this case I have seen someone who simply wanted to visit to learn and further his own skills, who will have slightly less experience to the children of Cape Coast now, thanks to the conservative nature of US immigration policy.  This makes me sad.

The cell network here has been out all day, probably from a lightning strike (around 6am it killed the power).  I can still get on the Internet, although I cannot say why (since my Internet service is cellular), but I am happy enough for that.  We have to travel to Accra tomorrow to apply for our Nigerian visas, and we are doing it on a very tight timeline … if they are not granted the first time around (Nigeria is known for loving paperwork, and for rejecting the first time if your paperwork is insufficient) we will not have enough time to reapply before our flight.  Miranda is confident, which I guess should make me feel better, since she is very good with logistics, but I still have my doubts.

Maybe half of the kids had some football gear (shoes, pads), and the other half played in sandals and without shin pads.  One kid was bleeding at the end from a blow to the shin (and not having pads).  We both felt for Tony and his struggle to get them gear, something even as simple as balls for them to kick … all of the different age brackets he coaches have to share the same couple of balls (each ball is 70 GHC, basically a month’s wage for many), which unsurprisingly are showing a lot of wear.

Comments are closed.