The youth and basketball in Ghana: The Kojo Afari experience edition (Pulse Contributor’s Review )

It’s a rather partially frigid Saturday morning on August 7th. It looked like it might rain with the grey clouds already prancing through the skies. Till the rain confirms itself, it looks like the “Kojo Afari Experience” will come off live at Decathlon Ghana-Accra.

Kojo Afari and the young athletes

Kawukubi is the location for this basketball event, and it is just a few meters away from the 37 Military hospital. Children and young people of varying ages, sizes and height had converged at the Decathlon Ghana car park which had been improvised into a basketball court. Ingenious right?

Well, the initiative was realized by Kojo Afari, a Ghanaian basketball player who played professionally in Canada, Australia, China, England, and Vietnam. It is without a shred of doubt that basketball is still nascent in Ghana and tremendous hard work must be pumped in to make the game a vibrant sport in future. The Greater Accra Regional basketball league has been in existence for over two decades, yet a solid basketball brand has still not been established nationwide.

Kojo Afari can be spotted tutoring the young kids on some basic basketball skills on the court. They start with the basic bouncing of the ball and motion skills on the court. Coaches from the basketball School Academy (B.S.A) were present to tutor the kids as well. Most of the kids seem to have innate abilities for the game and were deft with the ball.

They proceeded to learning how to shoot hoops. The girls were extremely talented with shooting hoops. It was an amazing spectacle to witness since young girls are often stereotyped when they engage in sports.

“Yeah…Hi, I am Janelle, I school at Ghana International School. I am a member of the Basketball School Academy”. Janelle shyly says. Pulse Ghana: Do you plan on going pro in basketball?

Janelle: Yes, I ardently follow the WNBA a lot.

Pulse Ghana: Wow! So, does that mean you plan on attending college overseas to increase your chances of playing in the WNBA?

Janelle: Yes, I do! probably (She says with an innocent smile while bouncing the ball casually)

Pulse Ghana: So which team do you wish to play for?

Janelle: The L.A Sparks hopefully.

From that interaction, it was evident the renaissance of young girls in sports was in full motion particularly in basketball. Accra Girls Secondary School had their basketball team present at the event, and they were skillful with the ball. Guys from Osu Presec Secondary School, defending Champions of the last Sprite Ball attended the event. Talented would probably an understatement to describe how adroit and proficient they were at the game. Hip-hop music blasted through the premises, and everyone was going with the flow. It appealed more to the millennials, Gen X and Baby boomers in the mix, and they sung along as some danced to the tune. It was a perfect scene for a basketball event. Decathlon Ghana did the honors of providing the athletes with numerous basketballs, jerseys, and footwear as well for training.

A rather important sight refreshing to see was the female photographers who were invited to capture the indelible moments of the events. They were clearly adept with their photography, and it was staggering.

At 10 am, after the basic drills provided to the athletes, they were compartmentalized into four different teams with five players each. There was team blue, red, black and green. The teams went head-to-head in a friendly game where they showed their basketball prowess with the crowd cheering and jeering at them.

After the friendly matches, at 1pm, the athletes converged under a canopy for life training skills. Kojo Afari advised them to be persevering and work hard towards their dream. Coaches from the Basketball School Academy also interacted with the athletes and enlightened them more on the game and how to be disciplined. “Always put your education first above all else” they advised but find a way to balance it with basketball…. all you need is to be time-conscious and disciplined.

“Am I too old to play basketball?” one female athlete asked. “Never!!, never ever place an age-limit to your dreams in basketball. You are never too young to pursue your dreams and be who you want to be” One of the coaches answered. After the life skills workshop, the male athletes also went head-to-head on the courts in their various allotted teams.

Pulse Ghana took advantage to interact with the pioneer of this successful event, Kojo Afari, who was clearly having fun and had proud smirk on his face.

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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