Scott McQuarrie - After School Sports in Ghana
My name is Scott and I have just returned from volunteering in Ghana. I was based in the capital - Accra, helping with the development of young footballers at Cantonments Football Club. Over the course of my three months spent in Ghana I had nothing short of an amazing and life changing experience.
From the moment I touched down in Kotoka airport I was made to feel extremely welcome. I was met by volunteer coordinator, Nyame - owner of one of the world's biggest smiles - and any anxiety I had about something going wrong on arrival were soon dismissed. After packing my bag into the car we then headed for Roman Ridge to meet my host family. I had the pleasure of staying with the Imoro family - my new host mother, Salima, was waiting to greet me at the door. At first a was a little skeptical about staying with a host family, however with the aid of retrospect it proved to be an invaluable way to immediately meet Ghanaians, ask questions and eventually become ingrained in Ghanaian culture.
The following day I met Louise, the British Assistant Country Manager, who collected me from my new lodgings and we set off for my induction to the city. Over the course of the day Louise pointed out various landmarks, made sure I was comfortable with the transport and answered any questions I had. There are few people who are perfect for their jobs but I can safely say Louise possesses the ability to put you at ease instantaneously.
In terms of the project I could not have asked for a better placement. The football coaching undertaken at Cantonments was hard, especially for a Scotsman in the heat, but thoroughly rewarding. It was a real privilege to work with such talented footballers and help with the development of their game. Not only was I able to implement some of the coaching methods used in Europe but also learned how Africans train. From speaking to the other volunteers I think it's definitely true that you get back what you put into your project. Even although volunteers are on placement for a relatively short period of time a lot can be achieved by asking what's been done previously, gaining an understanding of what your placement expects and providing another perspective in terms of ideas.
It's true, life can be frustrating at times in Ghana - it just takes time to adjust. The easiest thing you can do is accept that some things are done differently. However any frustration experienced will be combated in equal measures by the friendly nature of Ghanaians. Highs and lows, it's important to make the most of the experience because you'll miss it when it's gone. I certainly do!
On leaving someone asked me what my highlight had been - my reply, 'I'm not sure maybe the random acts of kindness from strangers, being amazed by how much women carry on their heads, rain that looks like a special effect from a movie, the colours, Ghana beating the Czechs in the World Cup, visiting the Liberian refugee camp, watching Cantonments under 12's win my first match.........'. This isn't even scratching the surface; I would strongly recommend experiencing it for yourself! I had the best time of my life.