California, Ghana and a football exchange

Aiming to expand the reach of women’s football abroad and to build cultural awareness at home, San Francisco Bay Area coach Robert Sackey for the first time takes a girls’ team to his native Ghana. The side, the U-13 Mavericks, leaves for Accra on Dec 19 and returns Jan 4, with a touring schedule that includes fixtures against Sackey’s Hasaacas Academy in Sekondi, some 100 miles southwest along the coast from the capital, and Ghana’s U-14 national team.

Organized soccer for girls in Ghana begins at 14, something that Sackey intends to push earlier by creating a national women’s league and developmental squads. The Mavericks of the Alameda Contra Costa Youth Soccer League earlier in the year launched a fund-raising campaign to purchase shoes, balls, bags and other equipment for Ghanaian girls; thus far, they have raised more than $40,000.

“There are so many girls [in Ghana] who can only play on the street, and they don’t learn all the skills that they can learn if they are on a team,” says the Mavericks’ Ali Lopez.

For more background on women’s soccer in Ghana and Africa, see our Women’s World Cup entry, plus podcast, of Sept 20.

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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