Ghana U11’s and U13’s Football Tournament

Friday 29th November saw the United Through Sport under 11’s and under 13’s teams compete in a Football Tournament held at Lizzy’s Complex in East Legon, Accra. The boys were accompanied by United Through Sport staff, volunteers and special guests who cheered them on as they took on their opposition teams. To add some extra importance to the day, a crew from TV Africa came along to film the boys playing and interview some of the UTS team.

The United Through Sport under 11’s team (green shirts) played first, the match was fast paced and action packed from the first whistle. The boys played extremely well and showed off their skill to those who had come along to support them, lots of great attempts at goals were played and the our United Through Sport boys scored two goals during the match. Unfortunately at the final whistle the boys were defeated 4 – 2, but they played a fantastic game and really did themselves and United Through Sport proud.

Next up, the United Through Sport under 13’s team (orange and black shirts) took to the pitch, the boys played really well and showed just how far they have come through their training over the past few months. The match was action packed with lots of great balls played and goals scored, the light faded as things got into full swing but this didn’t affect the match as the flood lights came on to ensure the match was played to full time. The match finished at 3 – 2 to the opposition team, another great effort from the United Through Sport boys.

After the match, United Through Sport staff were interviewed by the TV Africa crew, this was a great opportunity to promote United Through Sport Ghana and raise the profile of the work that is being in done in Accra. It was a great afternoon for everyone and the atmosphere amongst the boys and United Through Sport staff was fantastic as the day came to a close.

South Africa Netball Girls Visit UK

At this moment ten pupils from the Junior School of Excellence (JSE) program are in the UK for a sports and cultural exchange tour sponsored by touraid. The under-13 girls are taking part in netball and touch rugby tournaments and will experience some cultural activities during their time in England.

The girls, along with the Junior School of Excellence netball head coach, Miss Cadala, and United Through Sport director, Nick Mould, left Port Elizabeth on Tuesday the 1st October; where they were seen off at the airport by overly-excited parents and teachers. The send-off was very emotional as all the ladies were travelling outside South Africa for the first time, with the experience of flying on a plane… a first for the young stars.

During their time overseas, the team will have an opportunity of mixing with a group of girls from Kenya who are visiting England at the same time. Visits to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street have been arranged and the group will also go on the famous London Eye and go and watch their first ever live English rugby match.

We are extremely grateful to be working with touraid to afford such a life time experience to the youth in our programs. This is the second sponsored tour that we have been granted by touraid, with the first one in 2009 where a group of rugby boys travelled to England for the same period of time. We hope the relationship between United Through Sport and touraid has even bigger prospects in the future.

The touch rugby team captain, Tasneem Webb, said she was excited to play in the UK. “I want to be famous, I want to be seen playing for the school”.

Eagerly waiting their return on the 13th October to hear all about the tour, we trust the girls will have fun, represent the organisation well and fly high the South African flag in the UK!

Scholarship Awards Ceremony in Ghana

Thursday 26th September 2013 was a very special day for United Through Sport Ghana as the first ever Scholarship Awards Ceremony was held in Teshie, Accra and the very first intake of talented young football and tennis players received their Scholarships to the School of Excellence.

For the last 6 months the Ghana Team have travelled the length and breadth of the country in search of the country’s most talented young Tennis and Football players. Over 1000 boys were originally selected and this has now been whittled down to just 26 lucky boys who were awarded a scholarship for the United Through Sport School of Excellence. The scholarship will provide these boys with a good quality basic education and training in their chosen sport of either Tennis or Football. For those boys who do not live in close proximity to the United Through Sport Ghana office in Teshie, they will also receive food, accommodation and support during term times.

The ceremony was attended by the boys receiving their scholarships, their parents and family members, volunteers, coaches, staff and other boys who are still going through the selection process and hope to receive a scholarship of their own in the future. The ceremony began with a warm welcome and speech from James Dzandza, Director of United Through Sport Ghana, and an opportunity for parents to ask questions about their sons futures with United Through Sport. The presentation of scholarship certificates to the lucky final 26 boys followed, each certificate was presented by a representative of United Through Sport Ghana and the boys were accompanied by their parents for individual photos as they were presented.

After all of the formalities it was time to celebrate the boys achievement and this huge milestone for United Through Sport Ghana… big smiles were seen all around, not only from the boys but from their parents, family, volunteers and of course the United Through Sport team.

Impromptu entertainment was laid on by an older brother of one of the boys receiving their scholarship who showed off his impressive football skills to parents.

The afternoon was a huge success on all accounts and we wish the lucky scholarship recipients the very best of luck in their studies and training with United Through Sport.

The Happiest 5km on the Planet

“The happiest day of my life”! This is how Tazneem, one of our Junior School of Excellence Netball players described taking part in The Color Run, held in Port Elizabeth yesterday. Tazneem was one of 25 children and 17 volunteers from United Through Sport lucky enough to take part in the first ever Color Run on the African continent.

The Color Run, billed as “The happiest 5km on the planet”, is a paint race that celebrates health, happiness, individuality and giving back to the community. So for us it was extremely fitting that we were identified as the Charity partner for the event in Port Elizabeth, as it encompasses many of the values we instill into our sports programmes.

As charity partner to The Color Run Port Elizabeth we have experienced nothing but fun and happiness since beginning work with the organizers. The Color Run team from Portugal, encompass the attitude of the race with their warm, kind and cheerful nature which made the experience for over 50 volunteers from United Through Sport working with them in the build up and on the day of the race almost as enjoyable as the race itself.

On race day, it was an early start for all the volunteers and 25 children from our Junior School of Excellence programme to get to The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University by 5h:30am to prepare for the days events. Our children enjoyed the race with over 9000 other participants who were all desperate to be a part of this inaugural event in Africa. The race itself was out of this world for the kids, with bursts of color continually filling the air as they ran around the 5km course. Each individual had bags of color powder to throw at each other as well as various ‘Color Stations’ of volunteers shooting color at runners as they passed by. There was more entertainment on the way around with cheerleaders, drummers and fitness instructors all part of the carnival atmosphere willing the runners on.

At the end of the race the festival continued for several hours with music and big screens showing the festivities. One of the highlights for our kids was being called up on stage in front of thousands of other runners to throw more colored powder packets to the cheering participants.

It was a hugely successful day and one that we, and the lucky 25 children from our Junior School of Excellence will never forget. It was a real pleasure to work with The Color Run team and be a part of the event all the way through. As part of the legacy, The Color Run organisers have donated funds to ensure that some of those children who took part in the race yesterday will receive a scholarship to go to a top level high school in 2014. What an amazing day and what an amazing experience!!!

Ghana School of Excellence Recruitment Day

May 2013 saw the first part of the United Through Sport Ghana recruitment programme for over 1000 aspiring young football players who were all vying for their chance to receive a prestigious scholarship at the United Through Sport School of Excellence.
After weeks of scouring the country for Ghana’s budding young stars, the Ghana team and volunteers spent the day at a football ground in Teshie, as the young hopefuls were put through their paces. The day took the form of a football gala as the boys showcased their talent, technique and discipline to the team who would be deciding whether they would be going through to the next stage. Lots of people came along to support the players and cheer them on as they played their hearts out for a chance to move forward in the recruitment process.

To add to the occasion, the boys and the team were joined by former Ghana Black Stars Coach, Charles Akornor, who gave valuable input and feedback on the young players, as well as assisting with the final decision as to who would be selected to go through to the next stage of the process and move one step closer to receiving a scholarship for the United Through Sport School of Excellence.

After a long day, 22 exhausted young players were selected to go through to the next stage of the recruitment process which will include rigorous training schedules and aptitude tests over the course of the coming months.

A fantastic day was had by all, lots of celebrations from those who had made the grade and even those who were not lucky enough to get through to the next stage of the recruitment programme thoroughly enjoyed themselves and went home with a real sense of achievement.

Scholarship Numbers Elevate in South Africa

We are pleased to report on the increasing number of scholarships we are facilitating for children in the townships to go to “former model c schools” where they get to inter-act with different races and receive top level education.

Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth was the first school we built this relationship with; in the year 2010, where we facilitated a rugby scholarship for three boys starting Grade 8. The three boys now only have one more year of school, and they’re all looking forward to life after school. Since we started this relationship, we have been sending an increasing number of boys and girls to Pearson year after year. This year, we sent a total of 9 children to start Grade 8; giving a total of fifteen children currently on a sport scholarship at this school. Some of the older boys take pride in playing for the school’s rugby first team.

The second school we built a relationship with was Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg, through the Theo Jackson Scholarship Fund. This Fund pays special attention to orphaned children who are highly motivated and have a drive to succeed in life. We currently have one boy at Jeppe, who has evolved into such a young gentleman over the three years he has been there.

The latest relationship is with St George’s Preparatory, in Port Elizabeth. The main difference between this school and the other two is that St George’s is a primary school; therefore accepts younger children for a year or two before they move on to high school. Children selected for this scholarship are at an advantage as they get moulded at an earlier age to adjust from a township school to a multi-racial one, which makes their chances of receiving a scholarship for high school even higher. We sent our first group of children to St George’s this year, two boys and two girls who are all high achievers in sport.

Despite all the talent there is in the townships, it is extremely difficult for parents to afford schools which can open up opportunities for their children. It is therefore our greatest pleasure to provide the platform for such opportunities. The difference in the quality of education in the township schools and the multi-racial ones is remarkably vast. This therefore means the children need to work extra hard to catch-up, giving extra hours in their days where we provide tutors to assist them with their academics.

It was a lovely reward and incentive for the children when we took all of them to a Super 15 Rugby game at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium between our local team, the Southern Kings and the Sharks, a team from Kwa-Zulu Natal. The children also got to socialise with their international tutors on a more casual environment, outside the classroom. The roles were reversed as the kids were teaching the tutors a thing or two about rugby.

“Being at St George’s is hard; we have a lot of work even after school. It’s nice because the teachers help us with our homework. I want to go to Pearson next year because they are good in a lot of sport and I will fit in well.”- Numaan de Maar, UTS Beneficiary, 12 yrs old.

“We, as a family were over the moon when we learnt that my son would attend a school as prestigious as St George’s Prep. As a parent, you always have big dreams for your children, but being unemployed limits those dreams. With school fees, transport and school uniform arranged for us, we are only left with providing support for him.” – Leonie de Maar, UTS Beneficiary Parent.

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Our Tour Through Africa Reaches Tanzania

Ryan Jones, Rugby Programme Coordinator, gives us a quick run down of what we have been up to in Tanzania:

“Firstly, before I write anything else I have to get it out of my system, Tanzania is massive!! It’s a massive country, with massive mountains, scenery, culture and will always have a ‘massive’ long-lasting place in my heart.

I have seen and experienced so much within our time in Tanzania that it’s very difficult to put into words! The expedition team crossed into Tanzania with long-term supporter and director of Lloyd Morgan Productions, Lloyd Morgan.

The first beautiful scene to meet us was Lake Manyara and its brilliant baboons! As always, I’m completely honoured to be a team member, that feeling of privilege has only been enhanced by my time in Tanzania.

Unique to Tanzania, our work spread into three separate locations instead of one per country. First up was Arusha: We were fortunate enough to be accommodated at the lovely Braeburn School and I placed myself alongside JP and Ben for our week’s worth of uniting, empowering and inspiring through rugby at Arusha Primary.

The weather was quite an issue, but utilising our trademark adaptability and sponteneouty, we successfully put together a fantastic rugby week which also included meeting ‘Jonny Mike’ – the 80-year old giant tortoise and Arusha Primary mascot – the stunning TGT rugby pitch as well as Jon, Ben and myself having the pleasure of spending an evening coaching young Arushans full contact rugby!

The second Tanzanian location to be visited was the town of Moshi, where we had the pleasure of staying at the Stella Maris hotel (a non-profit organisation that funds an AIDS victims orphanage) – a mostly clear view of Mount Kilimanjaro each day and the only thing that could possibly top those two amazing things: working with Moshi street children from the wonderful Mkombozi agency! This is a charity I fully intend to support on my return to the UK.

I’m a pretty down-to-earth guy but for three days I think I was in the most bizarre form of paradise! To be a volunteer in Africa is to follow in the footsteps of many, many remarkable people. However, to experience elation that is unique to you and the homeless/deprived children you are selflessly helping, in a way that’s different to everybody else, is a phenomenal feeling. A feeling that I will always treasure, and I’m eternally grateful to United Through Sport for this huge opportunity for self discovery and one of the best weeks of my life!

We had a well earned week-off from project work after visiting the museums and crocodile farms of the former slave port, Bagamoyo. Most of the team headed to Zanzibar to rest a bit after 10 weeks on the road!

The team’s last stop in Tanzania is Dar es Salaam where we first stayed at the beach side campsite Mikadi, travelling to Dar by Tuk-Tuk and ferry each day. Right now, Ben and I are so fortunate to be staying in our new ‘home’ with ex-Tanzanian rugby international, JT, and his lovely wife Lynn. (Thank you so much for your hospitality, please look me up on your next UK visit!)

Mike, Jon and I are working with Mapambano Primary School, such an organised institution, heroically led by Head Teacher Idda Uisso!

If you thought that it might take us a while to get back into the swing you could not be more wrong! With Idda’s enthusiasm, the children’s unlimited appreciation, G4S’ superb input and support in coaching refreshments and resources, a daily rendition of the Tanzanian National Anthem – closely followed by the song “welcome teachers, Mr Richard we love you” – Mapambano reached a United Through Sport first, by achieving a Level 4 Assessment Award Certificate!

Dar es Salaam has the potential to be a new personal best for us! Thank you as always for your support and well wishes!

See you all in Malawi.”

Check out a video of our work in Tanzania.

Tennis Coach Prepares Ghanaian Youth Player for International Tournament

United Through Sport Ghana Volunteer, Michael Rossi, of London UK, has been coaching at the National Tennis Centre in Accra for the past 6 weeks to assist the development of grassroots tennis in Ghana. During his time in Accra, Michael worked one-on-one with Toshi. Toshi is amongst the most promising young players in Africa. The fifteen year old hails from mixed Ghanaian and Nigerian heritage and has already competed in tournaments around Africa. Michael’s one-on-one coaching sessions will hopefully prepare him for victory in a tournament he is due to enter in Nigeria commencing later this week. The tournament will include the brightest prospects from West Africa to determine the highest ranked players in the region.

Michael has been working closely with International Tennis Federation trained coach and United Through Sport’s Tennis placement coordinator, Yaya. Yaya volunteers his time without pay to aid the development of Tennis in Ghana, helping children of all ages excel in the sport. He is helped by the wonderful facilities at the National Tennis Centre in Accra. The 4 court complex, which is situated in the shadow of the 40,000 capacity Accra Sports Stadium and opposite the landmarks of Independence Square, are vital to the continued development of the sport. Yaya stakes the ambitious claim to have a Ghanaian breaking into the Top 10 World Rankings.

Yaya was speaking courtside at the Ghana Tennis Championships that were taking place in Accra. Many of the players qualifying for the latter rounds are still young and yet to reach their full potential. Key to the development of Tennis in Ghana is the small coastal town of Winneba in Ghana’s Central region, which is home to a State funded Tennis Academy and has 8 courts and hosts many National training camps whilst acting as a fully residential Academy for the brightest prospects.

Michael and Yaya also coach a large group of dedicated young beginners, who are lucky enough to use the same facilities as Ghana’s elite players. These children from underprivileged backgrounds rely on donations to provide the resources they couldn’t participate without; shoes, balls and rackets are expensive even by Western standards. In Ghana, contributions from United Through Sport and our beneficiaries are giving kids the chance to play, improve and hopefully compete internationally like Toshi and maybe one day become household names.

Ghana U13’s Triumph in Football Gala

A predictably scorching Easter Saturday in Teshie, Greater Accra witnessed the first in a series of United Through Sport organised Football Tournaments. Six teams would battle it out on the dusty Presby Park pitch to see who would be crowned inaugural Champions of the U13 Tournament.

Hosting the tournament, United Through Sport Ghana entered two teams of equal strength. Sporting United Through Sport, wearing blue were placed in Group A and Dinamo Football Beyond Frontiers (FBF) wearing all green in Group B. A round robin group format would see the teams with the best qualifying record meet in the final, to be played in the evening.

In a nervy opening performance, Sporting United Through Sport were lucky to grab an important 1-0 over the much fancied Apisco FC of nearby suburb Nungua. The victory came courtesy of a fine strike into the bottom corner from Sporting United Through Sport’s left winger Prosper.

It would be some time before the Dinamo FBF team took to the pitch, but with the other two games ending in draws both of our teams were well placed for qualification. Dinamo FBF took to the field and displayed the kind of inventive possession football that was reminiscent of Ghana’s Black Stars at the previous two World Cups. Centre midfielder Bernard Osei pulled the strings for the home side and sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory over [Billa’s] Future Leaders FC with a finely struck late penalty.

The other fixtures continued to impress with an array of spectacular goals being scored. Highlights included a 40 yard free kick flying into the top corner; a first time volley from outside of the area blazing into the back of the net and a impudent lob from an impossible angle to create a show reel that could easily feature several contenders for Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month Competition.

Both Sporting United Through Sport and Dinamo FBF ended the preliminary stage topping their groups, neither conceding a goal on their path to the final. Despite the familiarity of the sides, the final did not appear to be a friendly. Before Sporting United Through Sport took the lead from a well-crafted move and neat finish, the referee had yellow carded no less than 3 players for some overzealous tackling! Despite playing the more impressive football in the earlier stages of the tournament, Dinamo FBF failed to respond to going a goal down and eventually Sporting United Through Sport romped to a 3-0 victory.

The victory saw the teams swap shirts before typically raucous Ghanaian celebrations. UTS’ star player ‘Pato’ lifted the trophy. Pato’s midfield partner, Dennis Sowah took the Tournament ‘MVP’ Award and Goalkeeper Francis won the Best Goalkeeper Award after failing to concede a single goal all day.

The games were played in a superb spirit and we thank all of the teams and players for their efforts. The day ended with a customary Azonto competition. Even after a day of fighting it out in the unforgiving sun, players from all teams found the energy to close the tournament with superb displays of West African dancing, the only thing more natural to them than football!

The team at United Through Sport Ghana hopes their U15 and U17 teams can be as triumphant in their forthcoming tournaments as they prepare for the new season.

International Volunteer Coach Plays With National Team

Volunteer coach, Jordan Palmer, was part of the Ghana Under-18 Women’s Hockey Team that played neighbouring Togo at the National Hockey Stadium in Central Accra this Saturday. Togo, Ghana’s West African neighbours were looking to make a statement by returning home victorious against their more experienced rivals.

The game turned out to be a very one sided affair, the Ghanaians quick passing on the slick astro surface meant that the Togolese players didn’t ever get a chance to stamp their authority into proceedings. Volunteer, Jordan Palmer, marshalled an organised defence and distributed accurate passes out to the Ghanaian wide players that were instrumental in the creation of scoring opportunities. The Ghanaian attackers were in an unforgiving mood. Leading by five goals to nil by the half time interval and then forcing the Togolese goalkeeper to pick the ball out of the goal a further seven times in the second half. Ghana romped to a 12-0 victory with any infrequent Togo attacks being quickly extinguished by the United Through Sport Volunteer and team mates.

For a developing country without a rich heritage in Hockey, Ghana can boast fantastic facilities; the National Hockey Stadium was commissioned by the late President John Atta Mills and completed in 2010 with first class facilities. The National teams are making great progress in the World Rankings. The Men’s team is currently ranked at 37 (of 73) and the Women are also respectably ranked at 31 (of 62). With more foreign coaches coming to aid training of players and coaches alike, United Through Sport Ghana is working closely with the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA) to support a greater number of young Ghanaians to get involved in the sport. We are determined to help Ghana’s National sides at all ages make an impact in International competitions.