I was surrounded by hundreds of sweaty men screaming, leaping, chanting, and going absolutely wild. I admit this wouldn’t normally be a situation I would actively choose to put myself in.
Determined to be where the action was for the World Cup 2010 game between Ghana and Serbia, I set out on Sunday afternoon to find the men. In Ghana, while both males and females have great pride for their country and soccer team, it hasn’t been hard to miss that when a soccer match is televised, you’ll find a good majority of males, regardless of age, closely huddled around the nearest TV or radio in rapt attention. With the city streets of Accra lined with local food vendors and merchants, this often means two dozen men packed around an outdoor food stall watching a mini TV that receives less then satisfactory reception. Regardless, rain or shine, day or night, you’ll see this image repeating itself throughout the city. And so is the commitment of Ghanaian men to their beloved soccer.
Told that the game would be televised on a large outdoor screen not far from where I live, I set out with enough time to have a local street artist paint the Ghanaian flag on half of my face (for less than a dollar!) and find a cozy spot on the street to watch the game (in the middle of hundreds of men). I quickly learned that one of the keys to a Ghanaian’s heart is to paint your face with their country’s flag. I was welcomed into the crowd of soccer fans with thumbs-up and high-fives, and was even picked up several times in moments of excitement. My Ghanaian soccer support was greatly appreciated! Needless to say, it was an intense and fantastic 90 minutes of soccer game, though I really had no idea of the utter mayhem that would take place when Ghana scored the only point of the game. My calves, I admit, were slightly sore on Monday from the non-stop bouncing that took place throughout the game and when Ghana scored the only point, I joined the masses of men (and some women) leap with pure joy for 10 straight minutes. It was a LOT of fun.
Interestingly, it was only after the game had ended that all of Ghana came out of the woodwork and fled to the streets to celebrate their victory. Men, women and children of all ages were out in full force sporting their country’s colors, holding their country’s flag, and truly celebrating Ghana’s win with great pride. I spent much of the afternoon and evening smiling and laughing, thankful to be able to join Ghana in such a great day of celebration.
While this victory was clearly important to all Ghanaians and to Africa, I still believe it is the men of this country that hold a special place in their hearts for soccer. As I type this now, without even peering out my apartment window, I am comforted by the perpetual hum of the local mechanic’s TV playing its soccer and the voices of the boy, the friend, the father, and the grandfather watching their game together.
See you soon!
Posted By Josanna Lewin
Posted Jun 16th, 2010