Ghana | Making footballs ‘under the neem tree’

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Neem leaves. Link to article in the New African.Accra, Ghana | Ghanaian writer Cameron Duodu reflects richly on the details of village football-making in his regular column, “Under the Neem Tree,” in the December New African.

We took a cigarette tin into the bush and tapped the sap out of a gum tree called ofuntum. If you scraped off the bark of this tree, white gum came out of it which congealed when you boiled it. You would then find a round stone or orange and pour the rubber around it in order to shape it into a ball. The results were often pathetic. But so long as it was rubbery enough to bounce up and down, you thought you had got a “ball,” and you and your friends would go and find somewhere to kick it about. Do the David Beckhams of this world know anything about such things?

Later, Duodu compares a patched leather football he once encountered to the multicolored coat of Joseph.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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