National Children’s Football Week is due to take over Ghana with Play Ghana ‘s staff, parents and children organising events across the country.
P.L.A.Y (Participation In the Lives Of African Youth) (GHANA) was set up by Kofi Bawuah, a football coach by profession in 2004. P.L.A.Y (Ghana) was set up to bring to the forefront the neglect of the youth in the development of sports/football in Ghana. P.L.A.Y serves as a mouthpiece for children in terms of the amenities they lack to assist in their development through childhood play, lack of trained technical personnel, lack of playing fields, physical education not being part of the school curriculum. Also P.L.A.Y is in the forefront of the campaign to encourage internal school sports rather than out of school which is the norm in Ghana.
The Aim of Play Ghana is to encourage Government and the major stakeholders about the need for children to be allowed to play free of any adult influences or barriers. In the face of aggressive marketing and consumer campaigns this has been a global concern for many years with many childhood issues shared with education authorities.
Hundreds of children across Ghana and Africa have benefited from P.L.A.Y(Ghana) activities. In 2008 we facilitated the trip by the UK Parliamentary Football Club to Ghana whereby a donation of 15,000 pounds was made to the SOS Village in Tema. We also partnered with MTV Base to distribute hundreds of footballs to the children of some major orphanages. As the official representative for Ghana on the Greenwich Meridian Link we also partnered with Charlton Athletic Football Club to distribute football shirts to schools in Dansoman and Tema. In 2009 in response to a request from the Liberian Ambassador we donated track suit tops given to us by the English Football Association to the National Liberian Amputee team.
Currently P.L.A.Y. Ghana have a permanent staff of four Kofi Bawuah, Kwabena Antwi, Barima Sarpong and Evelyn Akuffo, we have a maximum of ten volunteers who work on project by project basis.
The current number one issue is the lack of playing fields for children to play on, also important is the disappearance of physical education from the curriculum as most schools springing up now have no pitches or parks for the students to play on. We are lobbying the Ghana Education Service to make it mandatory again that all schools should have these basic essential facilities.
By hosting the National Children’s Football Week in Ghana to coincide with United Nations International Day Of Peace we will be able to get the major stakeholders in the country to realize the neglect of the needs of the children as Ghana heads towards the elections. Children are the victims should the country be plunged into chaos through the actions of the adults so their voices should be heard in the build up. As International Children’s Football Alliance stakeholders we wish to raise the plight of P.L.A.Y Ghana with organisations in a position to help support the needs of our children.
P.L.A.Y. Ghana will be seeking to twin designated areas of play with Flanders Peace Field, Messines, Belgium, site of the 1914 Christmas Truces. Through the Peace Fields Project the children would be educated on the sacrifices that our forefathers had made in order for them to have peace. It would also serve as a reminder not to take peace for granted and that the need for each of them to be peace ambassadors using sport as the vehicle.
Both National Children’s Football Week and The Peace Fields Project are important because football is the very popular in Ghana and with the elections approaching having a week dedicated to the children we would be able to put our message of PEACE, before, during and after the elections to the masses through the activities lines up including a lecture by the children on football and how it can be used to promote peace. We would also have a strong internet and media presence during that week. We intend to interview children on their thoughts on the upcoming elections and how it affects them. Most importantly we would appeal to owners of pitches / astro turfs and parks to allow children to use their facilities for free. Selected schools would also be competing for the maiden ASOMDWEE (PEACE) CUP MATCH. ASOMDWEE means PEACE in our local dialect and because it would be competed for on that day we chose to name it in our local dialect as the day is also known locally as FOUNDERS DAY and it is a holiday.
One of the major benefactors of our programs has been the 5 Garrison Schools which is made up predominantly of children whose parents are serving in the army. We have run inter schools programs for them, helped upgrade some playing fields and even included them in the FC Unity campaign with Yamam Nabeel. We invited him to Ghana with the PEACE BALL and hosted an event within the Burma Camp Army base. Also did extensive work with the Liberian refugees in Buduburam Camp where we run coaching programs and hosted tournaments and other games for the residents.