Friday, July 2, 2010

1000 fans sent home, but 1bn rally around Ghana today!

"The stands will be slightly less studded with red, yellow, and green at the Ghana-Uruguay World Cup game today in Johannesburg. One thousand Ghanaian football fans, bankrolled by their government to cheer on the Black Stars, have been sent home due to lack of funding."

I read this article this morning with mixed feelings. I must admit I was shocked to hear that the Ghana government, in a country where the majority of the population live below the poverty line, and which collects millions in aid from around the world for the very basics, would spend what some speculate is over USD$5m on soccer fans!!!

But having said that, I was even more shocked and dismayed to hear that the funds ran out just before Ghana played their last game against the USA - and the 1000 fans that were shipped in for the sole purpose of supporting the team, were sent back home. Pathetic!

It hasn't been easy for these fans either. On their arrival in South Africa on a chartered plane, they were forced to land and held - with the pilots charged - apparently they had entered SA airspace without permissions or notification! Once cleared and set up at a hotel, these funded supporters created a vicious mob in the streets of Johannesburg, due to the mismanagement of their trip and the fact that many would not get match tickets... what a mess.

Despite all this however, Ghana has pulled through as the only African team to make it to the quarter finals - which means they will have at least 1 billion fans (about the population of Africa) for tonight's game against Uruguay.

I've never been a sports fan, never like soccer but I love to see people pulling together for a common aim. I love to see the pride in people's eyes, and the happiness that fills the streets when the team wins. I have watched every nail-biting twist and turn of the Ghana games. I was out there in the streets after the USA victory with my red, gold and green YES WE CAN! t-shirt. I've got it on again today. Hopefully the team feels the spirit behind them - it's strong!!!

I only wish Ghana would be half as successful at organising and motivating the government and the average citizen as they are at producing world class footballers. If Africa had the same unity of purpose on so many other levels, this would be a different continent today.

Go Black Stars, Go!!!!
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