Ben Hardy – Sports Volunteer in Ghana
Ben Hardy joined a football coaching project in the Ghanaian capital of Accra in spring 2014. Ben will be starting a history degree this autumn. Ben volunteered for 5 weeks in Ghana.
Before leaving for Ghana, I had no idea about what to expect of the culture and country. I knew that the trip would be like nothing I had ever experienced before, as I’d never travelled independently in my life. The opportunity to travel to an African country renowned for its welcoming and friendly people seemed an enticing chance to immerse myself in a different lifestyle as well as meeting new people. Furthermore, Projects Abroad seemed like an excellent organisation which would allow me to coach football to local children as well as developing their English speaking skills. Overall, it seemed like a challenge that would prove to be beneficial and fun.
I lived with a host family in Accra which was perfect because it was close to my project as well as close to the city centre and places like Labadi beach, a great location for relaxing when you have spare time.
My host family themselves were very welcoming and Mrs Odonkor was a great host, epitomising Ghana’s friendliness and open culture. I shared a room with another volunteer from my placement whilst a separate room housed two other volunteers. Meals were the perfect opportunity to get to know my roommates. I was staying with a Swede, a German and a Dutch girl, and we all got on really well. Staying at a host family is a great way of adjusting to a new environment and I soon embraced things like taking a bucket shower, drinking from sachets and listening to the many local children who sang religious songs at the house on Sunday mornings.
Coaching children at Cantonments Football Club was fantastic and I always looked forward to training sessions. The children were full of enthusiasm and passion when playing the game that they loved so much. I was regularly training the under 10 and under 13 teams along with a Swedish volunteer and the local coaches who never failed to make me laugh and smile.
Mondays mornings were usually free for us at Cantonments FC, which allowed us football volunteers to also help out at a school and orphanage. The school was very basic as it started under a mango tree when twenty or so children turned up. Now the school has expanded and is located in a building with more facilities for the children. We focussed on developing their English and numeracy skills.
On many weekends I’d travel with other Project Abroad volunteers. We visited Ada Foa, a beach resort, as well as Cape Coast, where we visited the castle and a canopy walk amongst the trees. It was great to socialise with other volunteers and make new friends from all over the world.
I’d highly recommend Ghana and Projects Abroad to anyone considering volunteering.
Find out more about Projects Abroad at www.projects-abroad.co.uk