Published: July 6th 2009
June 18th 2009
To all those who told me Ghanaians love their football and heard me say "Well I won't be reporting on that!", here is my first article to be published. Admittedly, it is much more of a creative writing piece but Match of the Day here I come...
A procession of tro-tros pass by in a flash of yellow and red, men hanging from windows laughing and shouting. A man strolls casually between the cars, covered from head to foot in opaque red paint. Groups of people push past us. "My team will win 4-0 today," one smiles, waving his ticket in the air before disappearing into a group of red and yellow shirts.
The noise becomes louder and unbroken as we discover the stadium encircled by swelling crowds and hawkers selling ribbons, bags and football flags. Promised an unmissable match, we buy our tickets and squeeze our way into the arena.
Inside, it seems as if the whole of the city has come to see the game. The smell of popcorn, doughnuts and barbecued meat weaves through the stadium amidst the whistles and blares of hand-held air horns. Young men parade giant flags around the pitch, followed by a convoy of dancing fans, inciting further noise from the crowd.
As we settle in our seats, an argument breaks out. A Kotoko fan shouts angrily in the face of a Hearts fan, both squaring up to each other, until big smiles erupt and they are shaking hands energetically, laughing together. Excitement explodes as the players jog onto the pitch and then quiet spreads through the stadium as the game is kicked into play.
The ball is dexterously dribbled across the pitch, lured over by the opposition just as the other team reach their goal and thrust back down the line. Players dash in and out of one another, search for their teammates and take aim. Those who tumble to the ground mid-tackle find themselves instantly surrounded by medical attendants. A few near-shots prompt a communal intake of breath from the crowd but it is still 0-0 at half time.
Finally, in the second half Kotoko score from a free kick and their supporters go wild. The Kotoko fan who was arguing earlier clambers over the seats to get to the front and launches himself into a celebratory dance, a rag in one hand and a Bible in the other. Even a fan who is unable to use his legs, hoists himself up onto his hands and kicks into the air with joy.
With no more goals to be scored, the match draws to a close and we are hurled back onto the street in a swarm of ecstatic Kotoko fans, singing and dancing all the way home.