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Hartland and Clovelly AFC support United Through Sport

The local run football club Hartland and Clovelly AFC have provided a donation of £1220 for United Through Sport in memory of their former member, Martin Heard, who tragically died in 2014.

Hartland and Clovelly AFC runs 3 teams and have been an intrinsic part of local village life for many generations. Every other year the football club organise a fundraising day in memory of their dear friend, Marty. This year they have decided to donate a share of the proceeds to United Through Sport to reflect the importance they believe sport and community were to him. The objective of the event was not just about raising money, but to bring the local community together and make a positive impact from such a terrible tragedy. 

The event took place on a farm in Hartland and was a great success. It started of with an afternoon of family fun with a sport emphasis. This included a large amount of activities, such as football and boxing coaching, badminton and rope swings. Moreover, they organised a ticketed event in the evening “Party for Marty” which consisted of a live band, bar and hog roast.

We would like to thank Hartland and Clovelly AFC and their team of helpers and supporters for their contribution, it will be vital across our global projects.

United Through Sport Argentina | An Overseas Perspective

6 months ago I left my home country of England and travelled by cargo boat across the Atlantic to start a new life in Buenos Aires. Having worked in the city of London, I had seen first hand the effects of corporate manipulation and greed, and in all honesty it had turned me off the idea of pursuing a career in such an industry. It was time for a change, and as my opening sentence suggests, a radical one at that.

The only commitment I had on leaving was a 3 month volunteering program for a charity called United Through Sport. I would be working in a program that aimed to teach and help children develop skills in sport, both in schools and out. As a great sport lover, and with a passion for English rugby union as bright as any others, I thought such a program would be the perfect start.

Unfortunately on entering the country, my grasp of the Spanish language started and ended with the ability to poorly pronounce the words hola and gracias. This coupled with my first encounter with the hostels day cleaner Chuni (whose grasp of the English language only equaled that of my Spanish) made me realise this was going to be an experience unlike any I had had before.

The Organisation

It became clear, even just through our volunteering induction, that the name United Through Sport simply does not do justice to the full breadth and scope of the charities reach. Whilst its founding principle was that through its use, sport could tackle underlying problems and unite communities through better social cohesion, it appears this principle is now only one of many. With programs now running in education, healthcare, construction and childcare it has taken on a much larger role, and is seemingly becoming more a community builder rather than just a supporter.

What was explained to us, and what became apparent to me is that the beauty of a volunteering based charity is that it acts as a cultural exchange. It is not only that the volunteers are able to help the lives of children and adults through using their experience, but also the reverse. As a volunteer you get to learn and eventually understand the different cultural realities and nuances that are often so alien to our own. Perhaps the most obvious of these being the concept of Argentinian time which can be frustrating when you first arrive.

Sports Education

The sports education program I was part of had me working in a school alongside a physical education teacher, in order to help with classes and contribute any ideas I thought might benefit the students.  I was based at a school called Buen Consejo, where I taught and got to know 6 classes of around 20 students ranging from the age of 6 to 14 years. From designing your own games to focusing on a specific skill based drills, there really is great scope to use the knowledge you have and share it with the children

The vast majority of the children are from the shanty Villa 21 -24. This shanty is one of 6 in Buenos Aires and is the home to around 60,000 people. Needless to say living conditions and life prospects for those within the shanty are considerably diminished compared to the lives of the volunteers who come through the program. Things we take for granted often don’t exist there, and the initial shock you experience when you enter is one you can only experience first hand. More on this later.

At school the most notable thing that you first experience is how affectionate the children are. You are inundated with hugs and smiles and straight away are taught their unique way of greeting. Hola profe (meaning hello professor), and a small hand-clap quickly followed by a quick fist bump indicate that you are not only welcome but they are happy to see you. I found this act fairly overwhelming as not only had they straight away welcomed me to their group, but through such a small gesture they had made me feel part of it.

At break times you can sit and talk to the children, making the learning curve for someone with no Spanish very steep even if very difficult. Children here speak extremely fast and this along with this the fact that they are often not only from Argentina, but also Bolivia, Paraguay and Chile, means that understanding different accents also becomes part of the problem!

Often during break a child would finish with their juice box and throw it on the floor indicating the start of a quick pick up football game for those in the surrounding area. With so many children in the playground it meant that often you could see 20 juice boxes being hurled around followed eagerly by different groups of boys, all presumably imagining they were the next Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona.

I spent three months helping to teach football, basketball, handball, volleyball, and rugby. I was able to use and teach some of the skills I had been taught both at school and university, and it was an absolute pleasure to do so. I was also able to give the teacher a couple of useful drills and games he could use in the future. As a result of volunteering for an extended period of time I was able to form a strong friendship with said teacher. This was an added bonus, which certainly enhanced the whole experience.

As with all volunteering programs it really is what you put in you get out. I had some truly special relationships with the children because of both parties caring and wanting to take an interest. Whether it was teaching a few new English words at break times, or how to spin a rugby ball during class, the effects of a volunteering presence was certainly evident. The enthusiasm you show is automatically seen in the reaction of those you show it towards. There seems to be a certain intangible effect that can be quite profound even through such small gestures. Both child and volunteer can walk away greatly satisfied from the encounter they had just shared.

Comedor Evita

Having finished my initial program I was offered the opportunity to stay on with the charity as a coordinator.  In brief this role essentially means helping new volunteers settle into their programs and being on hand to help them as and when is necessary.

I now help coordinate a childcare program, which has been built inside a soup kitchen in the heart Villa 21 -24. Comedor Evita feeds up to 300 families everyday and is run and maintained by dedicated local staff who realise the fundamental need for such a facility. Unlike the extensive (even if criticized) social welfare program found in the UK, Argentina offers very little in comparison.

Those in the shanty find themselves at an automatic disadvantage. Just by the mere fact of where they live they are often unemployable outside of their area code and have less access to good quality education and ultimately life.  It is the work of places like Comedor Evita that allow many of those living in the shanty at least a few of our most basic human needs.

The childcare program is a relatively new initiative that gives children a safe and positive environment in which to learn and interact with each other. It allows parents who need to go to work a place to leave their children and also gives them the peace of mind that their child will be safe.  During their time at the soup kitchen the children will also be fed, in some cases this being the only meal they receive that day.

Much like the school the children are always happy to meet new volunteers. Some of these children are from abusive homes, some are neglected due to their parents being reliant on either drugs or alcohol, and some are just very poor with no other place to go.  Regardless, there is a great community feel between everyone involved, and gratitude shown towards all those who help however small. For example the Argentine practice of Mate drinking is often shared, which is one example of the cultural exchange mentioned earlier.

During my time at Comedor I have made strong relationships with both the children and the staff. Nelly who runs the soup kitchen is a true inspiration. Not only does she coordinate the arduous task of feeding 300 families a day, she also goes out of her way to help both the volunteers and anyone else who requests it. She does so with a smile on her face and an open heart, and as a result she is well known and well loved within the community, and rightly so.

I learn Spanish with the children through writing stories with them, or pointing at things of interest and asking what it means. My favourite pastime is standing at the fence, looking out at the traffic with a couple of them and carrying out said practice.  You can’t get away with anything with children, who are so quick to pick up on mistakes however small. Due to my gringo accent and untrained ear, they either innocently laugh at you, or show their disappointment that you have simply not grasped at all what they are saying with an affectionate slap to the face. They have a unique way to make you feel very foolish when for example using the preterit tense when the imperfect was preferable. However it is all done with smiles and laughter and in all honesty I am very grateful for their help.

Comedor is an expanding project with great potential. Since I have worked there I have seen the volunteers renovate multiple rooms, including the childcare area. The rundown fence outside has been given a new lick of paint making a considerable difference to its outside appearance, and certainly making it more welcoming.

The concreted area outside has been dug up and re laid, so what once was an uneven and fairly dangerous structure is now a flat new surface for the children to play. Soon a new higher fence will be installed to prevent balls flying over into traffic meaning more outside sports and less headaches for volunteers. There are also plans for further expansion upstairs, to make a room for classes and other activities to be held for those who wish to attend.

Ultimately the goal of United Through Sport is to use the soup kitchen as a foundation to create a community center that not only gives a place for people to come but also opportunities they otherwise would not have had. Although it is in its infancy, it is certainly on the right track and it really is excellent to see the progress that is being made.

Pause for thought

Since arriving in Buenos Aires the British pound has almost doubled in strength against the Argentine peso. The effects of such a crumbling economy are startling when you compare the difference it makes to a volunteer and a resident of Villa 21 -24.

While as volunteers we can make light and chatter about the fact that we can now enjoy the finest cut of bife de lomo coupled with a bottle of red wine from Mendoza for the equivalent of 15 US dollars. Such musings are not even contemplated by those in the shanty. The effects of a failing economy are seen first and foremost in the poorest areas and it is no wonder that even long term solutions to the structural poverty that persists are hard to picture.

The contrast is so vast between those who have and those who don’t have, that I would postulate that it would be impossible for even the most cynical and most closed minded of westerners who visit, not to have their eyes opened to what lies on the other side of the fence. For me it has been the most humbling experience of my life, and as selfish as it may be, I take great pride that I am now part of a work in progress solution, that aims to make the lives of those involved at least a little better.

I must admit that I was and have been a skeptic when it comes to charities, especially having seen first hand some of the corruption that happens within large organisations. However through the experiences I have had and the people I have worked for this opinion has certainly changed. There is a great passion from the team here to make a difference and I am truly glad to be a part of it.

Edward Watson

UTS Run Free Summer Camps For Over 80 Children In St. Lucia

United Through Sport ran simultaneous netball and multi sports camps over the school holidays this summer providing childcare and sporting expertise for underprivileged families in St. Lucia.

Our girls netball camp was run on the Vigie sports complex with girls from Egrets, Bocage, Soufriere and St. Lucia U14s netball clubs, who had been attending our after school projects in the year. The girls were treated to a range of games, exercises and drills from our UK volunteer coaches and programme coordinator Sarah Mosley.  

The La Clery summer camp was a chance for children to sample a range of different sports including; Football, Basketball, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, Athletics and Swimming. Attended by boys and girls from the La Clery community, Pioneers FC and our ongoing after school projects in Vide Boutielle, Marchand and Corinth, children were encouraged to find the sports they most enjoyed, and linked to our partner clubs to encourage adherence to the game.

The main focus of our camps were fun and inclusivity; Camps ran 4 days a week, food, transport, swimming lessons and one-on-one supervision was provided for those that needed it and our large volunteer numbers meant ability levels and age groups could be split during session. Meaning children from all backgrounds social backgrounds, age, ability and health got the opportunity to attend. United Through Sport was also able to donate playing shirts, boots and other sports equipment for camp attendees.

Highlights of the summer included; Fortnightly beach days and swimming lessons at Vigie beach, fun day on Splash island with Daren Sammy and the St. Lucia Stars cricket team, winners dinner at Coco Palms Hotel and our National youth Netball tournament.  

Success for Senior Team at Benin Tournament

Earlier in February, our senior team and their coaches travelled to Benin for the J2A U’17 tournament in Cotonou. The team and their coaches travelled by bus to from Ghana, through Togo and finally into Benin. It was an extremely long journey of over nine hours each way due to border crossing delays but after the long journey and a good night’s rest the boys were ready for their first day of matches.

The boys won both of their group stage matches on the first day which put them in a good standing for the final group stage match the following day – the United Through Sport team won the match with ease which sent them straight into the semi-final later that day. The semi-final posed more of a challenge for our boys as they were unable to reach more than 1-1 at full time; after extra time and no change to the score they began a penalty shoot-out. The match finished on 5-4 to United Through Sport after the penalty shoot-out, securing a place in Sunday’s final at Benin’s national stadium.

The boys were extremely focused in preparation for the final and relished the sense of occasion that playing at the National stadium brought with it. The game started off well and the United Through Sport team had some fantastic opportunities but unfortunately it just wasn’t their day. The opposition team, Kozaf, took the lead at the end of the first half; our boys gave it everything but luck just wasn’t on their side on the day – they ended the match defeated 1-0 but the Burkina Faso side. Although the boys didn’t win, they had some incredible support and comments from spectators, fellow teams and coaches. They did everybody proud with their performance and effort throughout the tournament and left Benin with their heads still held high.

On arrival back at the academy house, they were treated to a hero’s welcome from the rest of the academy boys – with singing, dancing, chants, hugs, handshakes and prayers of thanks. Spirits were extremely high and everyone was incredibly proud of them and their achievements.

Ghana Football Boys take on rival Ghana Academy

The Ghana Academy boys recently enjoyed a weekend trip to Sogakope in Ghana’s Volta Region to play the West African Football Academy, which up until recently was known as Feyenoord Football Academy – an incredibly good and well known Academy in Ghana. For this meeting our U13 and U17 squad’s represented United Through Sport in Ghana and did incredibly well.

The U’13s started brightly with some excellent pressure on the Feyenoord defence. As the game continued, more pressure from striker Wisdom Afrani led to a mistake at the back and he capitalised by rounding the keeper before slotting the ball away for a 1-0 lead. The boys were playing really well and with the pace from Sadiq Bawa threatening down wings led to the second goal, a great run by the winger with a calm finish in the bottom corner!

The second half started slowly in the 40 degree heat, a good move from Feyenoord ended in a good finish to half the lead United Through Sport had at half time. A few injuries forced a couple of substitutes which saw some of the younger development squad (U’11/U’12) boys make their first appearances for United Through Sport. With around ten minutes left a fantastic goal was scored by the United Through Sport side clinching a third goal. The ball was won in the centre of the pitch and a great move sweeping out to the right wing and quick low cross was put away by the goal scoring midfielder Charles McCarthy!

A great win for the boys against very tough opponents.

The U’17s started well holding on to the ball and playing some nice football. Unfortunately their good play didn’t lead to us taking the lead. Feyenoord hit us on the break and a nice finish put them 1-0 up. Not long after the opening goal we equalised with a very powerful finish from Ibrahim Sulley from a tight angle.

The second half was a close battle with neither team really taking the initiative, the midfield was being controlled by Joseph Amoah – who recently just returned from a training tour in the UK with St Mirren and Portsmouth – the game was ticking by and unfortunately Feyenoord hit us on the break and scored a second goal, after an initial good save from Amadu Ibrahim.

A close game, but in the end we fell just short, despite controlling the game!

Ghana Academy vs MTN Reality Starlets

United Through Sport’s U15 Academy side accepted the invitation to play against a very different Academy team this week. Located on the fringes of Accra’s Central Business District, our players took to the ‘Yellow Arena’ to play the MTN Soccer Academy team. MTN is the biggest mobile phone provider in Africa.

In its’ seventh season, the MTN Soccer Academy is a Big Brother style reality show where player’s performances earn public votes, and staying in the house can win you a trial with Chelsea FC. The show has discovered many talented players that have gone on to play in major European leagues and also domestically, for Glo Ghana Premier League teams such as Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak.

The match was a fiercely competitive six aside contest. Although small sided games are a feature of most footballers training at any level, the United Through Sport boys did not have much time to adapt to the frenetic pace of the game and new format. The ‘playing for your life’ motive certainly seemed evident in the MTN players. Many of the United Through Sport Academy players have only played more a handful of matches on real grass and the wear on many of their boots gave their opponents a noticeable advantage.

The MTN team started strongly, playing with panache and confidence whilst our team struggled to hold onto the ball. As our players adapted to the conditions, and seemingly took control of the game, they were soon to discover why the MTN boys are so highly rated.

In the space of two minutes, two long distance thunderstrikes crashed into the top corners of the United Through Sport goal (Ahhhh!), leaving the goalkeeper absolutely no chance with either effort. Our Academy kept their heads up and continued to play their way back into the game, well crafted moves leading to some great chances that were denied by a pair of fine saves and the woodwork respectively.

Continuing to build up the pressure, our boys in red were caught by a cruel deflection to set up a counter attack to make it 3-0 to the MTN Academy. Not letting this get them down, Ibrahim Sulley, charged with leading the line for the United Through Sport Academy team, hit a quickfire brace to narrow the deficit with some fine finishing.

Unfortunately, the team could not convert their chances. In between having a stonewall penalty appeal denied they conceded two more soft goals against the run of play. A half time scoreline of 5-2 was a cruel reflection of a half that could easily have gone either way.

Encouraging and calming words from the United Through Sport coaches seemed to have worked, with Captain Joseph Amoah leading the team straight out of the blocks in the second period. Despite strong pressure from the visiting team, chances were not converted and lessons were not learned. Two near identical incisive counter attacks from the MTN team put the score almost out of reach at 7-2.

The match had seemingly settled into a frustrating pattern whereby the United Through Sport team could not finish their chances and were clinically punished for their frailties and inexperience. Ibrahim Sulley, the saviour of the first half and the brightest attacking spark on display, added his third and then fourth of the game to bring the away team back into contention. A further fifth goal hammered in from Akwasi Anockey visibly shook their opponents as the scoreline became 7-5. To their credit, the MTN side remained resolute and their stubborn defensive efforts paid off as they kept it tight and then capitalised on a late ‘gung-ho’ approach, adding two more final goals.
The United Through Sport Ghana Academy team has come a long way in a very short space of time. The players can be proud that they matched older and more experienced opponents in an unfamilar playing environment. Many of the opposing players may forge careers from this experience and it is the goal of United Through Sport thar our Academy players can too.

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.

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.

Our Football Boys Receive Motivational Talk from Ghanaian Pro

Tuesday’s training session featured a very special visitor. Good friend of United Through Sport Ghana and Swedish Premier League star, Thomas Boakye, came down to Presby Park to speak and offer inspiration to our boys. Thomas’ team, Östersunds FK gained promotion to the Swedish Premier League (known as the ‘Allsvenskan’) as Champions this season thanks to a dramatic winner from the 19 year old Ghanaian wing back.

Kumasi born Boakye is back in Ghana due to the the Swedish end of season hiatus. With temperatures in the north of Sweden around 45°C colder than the December weather in Ghana, Boakye admits he is happy to be back after a very successful first season as a professional:

“It’s great to be back, but I am not going to pretend I don’t miss playing already!”

The message Boakye conveyed to our teams centred on the importance of hard work, both at training and in school. Thomas left his family in the Ashanti region aged just 10 to move to the prestigious Right To Dream football academy based in Akosombo, at the bottom of Lake Volta in the East of Ghana. Boakye’s dedication on the training field and in the classroom earned him a scholarship at the prestigious Hartbury Sports College in Gloucester, Western England.

During his time in England, Boakye represented England at Under 18 and 19 levels whilst playing for Non-League Forest Green Rovers and attaining a first class education that would prepare him for success in case his career in football did not materialise.

The importance of education and attitude was something Boakye was keen to emphasise to our boys. The Ghana Under 20 star urged our teams to capitalise on the extra lessons offered by United Through Sport volunteers at the School of Excellence every day before giving their all at their evening training sessions to improve their skills and fitness.

Boakye answered questions from our players on subjects ranging from his football heroes, life as a professional footballer and his remaining career aspirations.

Whilst the 2013 African Cup of Nations due to be held in South Africa next month may have come a little too soon for a senior call up to the full Ghana squad, Boakye has set his sights on impressing in his second International Under 20 tournament when Algeria hosts the African U20 Championship in March.

Thomas and other young Ghanaian footballers only have to look at the example set by fellow Right To Dream graduate, Abdul Waris. The young striker top scored in the Swedish Premier League last season and earned himself a lucrative move to Spartak Moscow. Spartak featured in this years’ UEFA Champions League playing against 3 past winners of the tournament in Celtic, Barcelona and Benfica. Domestically, Waris has not escaped attention as he looks set to be named in the Black Stars AFCON squad after starting the most recent friendly win over the Cape Verde Islands.

Here at United Through Sport Ghana we would like to thank Thomas Boakye for taking the time to offer our players advice and inspiration. He insisted the players should always show maximum respect for the coaches who spend vast periods of their free time to train our teams without asking for anything in return. We hope that both Boakye and United Through Sport can build on successful first seasons.

Our Boys Play Marcel Desailly Boys

On Saturday 1st December the football boys from United Through Sport Ghana, locally know as FC Football Beyond Frontiers (FC FBF) were invited to play friendlies against the Under 17 and Under 13 teams of the Lizzy Sports Complex (LSC). The LSC academy was founded by Ghanaian born French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly.

The LSC pluck talented youth players from around Accra to play, train and improve at their excellent facilities including several 3G pitches and a full sized grass pitch with gym and swimming pool on site. To be asked to play at the LSC is a sign of the rapid development that our team has made since being registered in the league in February 2012.

Despite both games kicking off at 8am, it was already a scorching hot day in the Ghanaian capital. This did not have any impact on the pace or quality of the football on display. The Under 17’s started excellently sporting a new look 4-3-3 formation. The plan was to control the middle battleground and support the lone big front man, Figo, with support from the attacking wingers and breaking midfielders.

The intensity, discipline and hard work resulted in a dominant first period as our boys went into the half time break 1-0 up and having shocked and stifled the LSC academy side. We could even consider ourselves unlucky not being further up the score board, having missed a number of good opportunities and being denied a strong claim for a penalty.

The second half saw the home side come out strongly and were soon level after an unfortunate goalkeeping mistake, presenting the LSC forward with an easy opportunity to equalise. Our boys bounced back and were unlucky not to retake the lead with standout midfielder, Carlos crashing a long range effort against the crossbar after a fingertip save from the goalkeeper. The home side refreshed with a change of front line and soon found the back of the net twice in quick succession through incisive counter attacks and ruthless finishing.

The boys kept their heads up and rejuvenated with a number of substitutions. They pulled a goal back with a fiercely placed free kick from the visiting number 10, a left footed strike that Lionel Messi would have been proud of!

Despite late pressure the game ended 3-2 to LSC, a result that was hard to accept for our boys, whom controlled the game for all but a 20 minute spell when the home side ruthlessly scored all three of their goals.

The home side and their coaches were full of praise for the boys from Teshie, where United Through Sport Ghana are located, perhaps knowing they were fortunate to have defeated a team that showed excellent organisation and teamwork coupled with periods of abundant, inventive and attractive football.

The LSC adacemy have already shown an interest in several of our boys in this age group and with respect to the events of this game, it is easy to see why.

Although only a friendly this was an excellent way for our boys to reflect on a successful first season as a registered team.

With the foundation of our School of Excellence and some vital equipment and financial donations from volunteers and friends of United Through Sport Ghana it can be a stepping stone to greater things for a talented and dedicated group of boys.