The Youth and Basketball In Ghana; Exclusive interview with Kojo Afari on his basketball initiative in Ghana (Pulse Contributor’s Review )

Pulse Ghana: What motivated this initiative?

The Youth and  Basketball  In Ghana; Exclusive interview with Kojo Afari on his basketball initiative in Ghana

Kojo: It started with my desire to connect with my roots back home because I grew up in Canada and the last time I was here was when I was eight years old. I thought the best way was to use basketball to help the communities in and around Ghana. I have seen the love for the game was growing and I wanted to be a part of it and take the game to the next level.

Pulse Ghana: Where in Ghana are you from and where did you grow up?

Kojo: I was born in Canada but at four years old, my family moved to a small town near Dubai in the middle east. At age fifteen, we moved back to Ghana. My mom is from Begoro and my dad hails from Mampong.

Pulse Ghana: What inspired you to love basketball

Kojo: when I moved back to Canada at age 15, I didn’t know anybody and was shy. I saw a lot of the kids playing basketball and I joined them. I tried out for the basketball team in my school, and I got accepted. After seeing the comradery in the game and the nuances, the travel, the tournaments and the brotherhood, I fell in love with it instantly and my desire to learn and grow instantly grew with it.

Pulse Ghana: What future do you see for young Ghanaian basketball athletes?

Kojo: I feel the future is bright especially since we are in the age if social media. Basketball has a huge connection with pop culture and mainstream culture as well. The young kids have started falling in love with everything that has got to do with basketball, the shoes the game and the style. Ghanaian Athletes are very active, and it is going to take consistency and proper coaching to help develop these players.

Pulse Ghana: What should Ghanaians expect with this initiative of yours?

Kojo: Ghanaians should expect real and sound fundamental training. I am a firm believer in having a strong foundation to build on. They should expect the techniques of the game, a lot of enthusiasm and energy because the game has changed my life and I get so passionate about it .

Pulse Ghana: Why did you name it “the Kojo Afari experience”?

Kojo:I did not want to create just another normal basketball camp. The aim was to make it an experience not just an event. I wanted to connect it with going to school and teaching the importance of sports.

PulseGhana: Can you tell us about the end of summer trip to Ivory Coast?

Kojo: Basketball School Academy in Ghana has started to attract a lot of attention from various academies in Africa. One of which was the Olympic Basketball Center in Abidjan, one of the most successful Basketball academies in Africa. They invited BSA and Kingdom athletics to one of their camps and we will be taking teams of boys and girls to participate in those events. We will be there for a week (August 23rd to the 30th)

PulseGhana: Where do you see Ghanaian basketball in the next five years?

Kojo: If we keep up on this trajectory, I see Ghana being a basketball powerhouse. We may not be as tall as the Somalians or the Sudanese, but we are strong, agile and endowed with stamina. The passion and desire to learn is there. What we have to do is Provide these kids the space to learn and sound coaching. The future of Ghana basketball is bright But the large onus fall s on the leaders, coaches and program leaders to provide the kids with the necessary space to develop.

Pulse Ghana: Who is your idol in the game?

Kojo: I know it may sound a little bit cliché, but I’ll opt for Lebron James. My second would be Kawhi Leonard because I relate a lot to his journey in basketball.

Pulse Ghana: How long have you played and which teams have you played for?

Kojo: I have been playing since 2017. I played in Canada for my home team called the Hamilton Honey Badgers, played in Australia for the Wilding Panthers, played in England for a team from Las Vegas and then in Vietnam while I was coaching. I also played very briefly in China.

PulseGhana: When did you realize you loved to coach aside playing?

Kojo: Coaching provided me a lot more opportunities than I ever thought. It gave me access to stuff I wouldn’t acquire as a player. As a coach you can a play a key role in the general development of the next generation. It something that makes me happy, and I want to be to young athletes what I never had. I realized it in Australia where I was offered some extra cash to train young kids. I put out flyers with the tag” train with Kojo Afari” and parents who saw me play wanted their children to train with me and that is why it pretty much started.

PulseGhana: How did you start Kingdom Athletics and how has it benefitted Blacks in your community at Canada?

Kojo: I started kingdom athletics when I came home from Vietnam because of COVID. It was during the time of BLM and George Floyd’s murder. So, I realized I needed to do something for young blacks. I felt the need for blacks to see people like them in places of authority and to inspire them . The impact has been great, and we offer coaching services to various clubs in Canada as well.

Pulse Ghana: You already have a project called Project Ghana hoops. How is it going and how many Ghanaian Basketball athletes have you impacted with it?

Kojo: 200 Ghanaian athletes have benefitted from this in various ways. We’ve also gathered $2,000 to purchase equipment for the youth of Ghana. There also a youth program we have called Young Coach without borders where we teach young coaches how to coach. We have acquired 150 pair of shoes for the Ghanaian Youth as well.

Pulse Ghana: What can Ghanaian Basketball Athletes do to be drafted in the Foreign Leagues

Kojo: First of all, foreign leagues aren’t looking for superstars. They are looking for players who can play so Ghanaian players need to learn how to play the basics. Educate yourself on the game and its nuances. Network with people as much as you can and market yourself via social media.

Pulse Ghana: What are your hobbies and which Ghanaian meal do you enjoy most

Kojo: Music… I love music. I play the guitar, the base guitar, and drums. Music is my first love and I started at eight. For Ghanaian food, I love jollof rice and my mom, Mama Cee makes the best jollof. I also love fufu, abenkwan, Kontomire, nkatenkwan. I’ll eat banku and kenkey at odd times, but they are not my dirst choice.

Pulse Ghana: What inspirational message do you have young basketballer outside.

Kojo: If you love it, you need to keep going at it. There are transferable skills basketball can give you including, communication skills, entrepreneurial skills, perseverance. I think of basketball as a live entity. If you give 50 percent, basketball will also give 50 percent. If you give 100 percent, basketball will also give you a 100. I am a living testament to that. Just because I grew up in Canada, opportunities were not just handed over to me it was something had work hard for. I believe when you love them game and if you pour your all into it, it will give back to you.

Contributor: Esther Owusuaa Appiah-Fei

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf

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