As a youngster growing up in a village in Africa there is very little to enjoy. Your home is occupied with people – sometimes parents, but mostly distant relatives or acquaintances – who are trying to survive and only provide a bare minimum of support for your basic needs. Their time is spend on trying to find work or money or both and quite a number of the people that are supposed to take care of you turn to cheap, locally produced alcohol if this quest is not successful. There is no after school care and no guidance in terms of activities, friends, norms and values. The only thing you really enjoy is playing football. But the local club is dominated by older players already fighting over the only football the club possesses. You are therefore left to wait until they have finished and you might be lucky to play for a short period of time before the sun sets. The football field you play on is a bare piece of land with two iron goals, seriously eroded by the tropical rain storms that pass by every few days and filled with sand and stones and rubble from the surrounding houses. It is difficult to find a level part of the pitch to practice your skills. If you fall down you are lucky only to have scratches, cuts and bruises, if you’re unlucky you will break an arm or a leg. After playing you will have to find some water to freshen up or otherwise go to bed without being able to take a shower. In short, a local football club can’t meet the needs of the youngsters growing up in the village.
The Kitase Action Boys FC in Kitase – a small village just north of the capital of Ghana, Accra – is drawing nearly 150 players to the training every day. The youth teams of the club with ages ranging from below 10 to under 13, under 15 and under 17 are playing organised football based on a Dutch ‘total football’ approach and the individual physical and technical skills of the players. In the just concluded National U15 Championships organised by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) in collaboration with the FIFA the Action Boys team came in 3rd, just one goal away from qualifying to the national finals. What makes that feat even more impressive is the fact that all the opposing teams where build around selected players either from regions in Ghana or from academies. The Action Boys is a local club with only local players. But because of the intensive daily interaction between coaches and players the needs of these youngsters and their homes are continuously being assessed and evaluated. Ultimately this provides an ideal setting to work on developing the youth in Kitase and to improve their living conditions. Therefore Kitase Action Boys FC is much more than an ordinary local football club. While playing great football at the same time it is a safe heaven for underprivileged youngsters of the village. And when they are well-fed and ready to play these Kitase action boys can conquer the football world.
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