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.

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