Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, enjoyed by millions of people of all ages and backgrounds. Children from deprived and underserved communities also get to play this game with the hope of carving out a future in the game. What happens if they do not make it as professionals? Are their lives shattered forever? This is where the Fafali Ball & Brain project comes in, using football as a tool to promote learning and academic achievement. For many children in disadvantaged communities, access to education can be a challenge as most children are left behind with academic deficiencies to deal with on their own. As the project celebrates its sixth anniversary, it is worth reflecting on the impact it has had on children’s lives in the Anumle Electoral Area and Ghana as a whole.
The Fafali Organization is a nonprofit organization that operates in the Anumle Electoral Area (Urban) in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana and the Kpoviadzi Electoral Area (Rural) of the Volta Region of Ghana. We work with marginalized groups and underserved children, ages 5 to 18 years. We also work in five (5) strong program areas. Namely; Sports, Gender Equality, Education, Environment & Sanitation, and Entrepreneurship.
Under our Sports project, we have projects like Ball & Brain, Golf & Goal, and Fit4Fun. The Ball & Brain project is the oldest in the Fafali Organization. The Ball & Brain project began in 2017 during the then Ngorli Organization – now Fafali Organization.
What the Ball & Brain Project is about
The Fafali Ball & Brain project is both gender inclusive, which means it is for both boys and girls. This project is an after-school project, which involves two parts – the Ball part and the Brain part.
The Ball part of this project involves the organization allowing children to follow up on their passion for playing football and sometimes getting to realize their dreams of becoming professional football players.
The Brain session of the project aligns with our mission of empowering the youth of Africa with education, training, and character – enabling them to act upon their future and enriching their local communities and Africa as a whole. During this session, we have dedicated and qualified personnel who take needy students through their academic difficulties like reading and writing, school home works and other academic exercises. Classes take place in smaller groups for students to have the full attention of their tutor. This exercise is done with a lot of fun as children are exposed to a variety of games while finding solutions to their academic deficiencies, which sets them apart from the everyday norms in their various schools.
Mondays are set aside for the Brain session at our volunteer house where all these academically challenged students converge with their tutor. As an after-school project, the Brain session is a one-hour activity that takes place from 4:30 – 5:30 pm (GMT).
The Ball part as mentioned earlier is gender inclusive and has both male and female teams. The Male team currently trains at the GIMPA school field off the Achimota-Legon road from Tuesday to Friday at 4:30 – 6:00 pm (GMT) and currently has a regular participant base of close to one hundred (100). The female team on the other hand trains on Saturdays from 7:30 – 9:00 Am at the Anumle school field and also has a regular participant base of fifty (50) children.
All activities during the Ball part are organized under the guidance of qualified and dedicated coaches as well as some volunteer assistants.
The Ball & Brain project came about as a result of the Founder, Raymond Amezado’s ideology of using football to tackle real-life issues, hence his collaboration with Coach, Randy Edem Amezado, to bring this idea to fruition. Randy then brought on board his colleagues; Paul Dzaka and David Amezado who have ever since been coaches of the Ball & Brain project throughout its 6 years of existence. Along the line, the female team also got their coaches; Senyo Sosu and Ivy Worlanyo Theodore.
Ball & Brain team is the first football team for kids to have ever come out of Kisseman and is owned by the Fafali organization (formerly known as Ngorli Organization) as a project by the indigenous people. It is also the first football team to have more than 150 kids both boys and girls in Kisseiman. Ball & Brain is also the only team from Kisseiman that has grown to be a household name where if you mention the name everyone knows about it as Ngorli FC in Kisseman and its surrounding communities like Dome, Haatso, Achimota, Abofu, and beyond in Accra.
The Ball & Brain project was founded on the principle that football can be a powerful motivator for learning. By using the sport as a way to engage children in educational activities, the project aims to improve their academic outcomes and give them the necessary guidance they need to succeed in life. The project works with schools in the community to provide football-based programs that integrate academic subjects into training sessions and games.
The project also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration. By working together to achieve common goals, children learn important social and emotional skills that are essential for success in school and beyond. Through football, they learn to communicate effectively, solve problems, and support one another, building confidence and resilience along the way.
Impacts & Achievements
The impact of the Ball & Brain project has been significant. Over the past six years, the project has reached thousands of children in communities around Ghana, providing them with new opportunities to learn and grow. By using football as a tool to promote education, the project has helped to break down barriers and create new pathways for success. Perhaps most importantly, the Ball & Brain project has inspired a new generation of young people to pursue their dreams and aspirations. By showing them that they can succeed in both sports and academics, the project has given them the confidence and motivation they need to pursue their goals and make a positive impact in their communities.
Speaking to Coach Randy Edem Amezado, he outlines some impacts and achievements chalked by the Ball & Brain project.
“The biggest highlights of the team were proud moments where the u11 team went unbeaten in the whole of 2018. The whole team became popular in 2019 when they were beating opponents both home and away from all parts of Accra. We were also happy to grow the u15 team to u17 where we can compete with professional clubs playing in divisions 3, 2, 1, and the premier league of Ghana with good results. We have also achieved tremendously with our impact base purpose of using football to attract kids to get back to the classroom. Currently, we have put over 35 kids back to school where some are yet to write basic education exams and others have moved on to high school. Ball & Brain has seen and supervised kids from our project to move to great high schools in Ghana. Eg Achimota SHS, Aggrey Memorial SHS, Kumasi Academy SHS, Mawuli SHS, St Peters SHS, and many more. As 17 April always marks an anniversary for the project we are always proud of being the oldest project of the Organization and we are looking forward to two of our boys traveling to Portugal for their trials. This would go on to be a big crowning moment for our project,” Randy said.
Over the years, the Ball & Brain birthed different project ideas like our flagship Coach the Coaches Course which is held annually across the length and breadth of Ghana in some of its most deprived communities. Through the Ball & Brain project, we also have soccer clinics that also take place in different communities across Ghana.
The basic concept behind the Coach the Coaches Course is to help equip stakeholders in football with the required knowledge and resources to be able to initiate social changes in their various communities. As part of the Coach the Coaches Course, the Fafali Organization organizes soccer clinics for children in selected communities by providing them with readily available equipment to pique and sustain their interest in the game of football.
Over the 6 years of existence of the Ball & Brain project, we have had support from other organizations through partnerships.
- KitAid – is a charity that recycles once-loved football kits and distributes them to underprivileged children and adults in some of the world’s poorest countries. Theydonate football/soccer materials; equipment and jerseys to support the Ball & Brain project like football equipment for participants during and after the Coach the Coaches Course and kits for children during the soccer clinics. All this equipment is shipped at our own cost.
- Central Progress – an organization made up of UEFA-licensed coaches with a common goal of uplifting the game of soccer that helps by bringing coaches from Europe to help instruct the Coach the Coaches Course and the Soccer Clinics.
Coach Randy also threw light on some challenges the project has faced over the years.
“Over the 6 years since it has been running, we have had 300 plus kids coming in and out of the project, and currently the number of participants stationed at 120 plus kids both boys and girls. The project had its low moments when we did visibility studies in 2018 and 2019 by going on camping to play and read books. This was the moment we got to know most kids can’t read. also late 2022 and early 2023 when coaches were taken away for the Coach the Coaches Course project, Coaches going for GUSA games, and also luck of funds to play games. Most kids lost interest so the attendance became very poor where 12-26 kids were showing up for training in a week, especially with the boys’ team,” Randy said.
The Ball & Brain project has not gone without struggles since its inception back in 2017. We have overcome many challenges to get to this point but some still linger. Below are some challenges we continue to face as a project.
- Funding – This is our major challenge as a project. Looking at the above initiatives we undertake, lots of funds are needed to carry it through. This funding covers the costs of transportation to the various communities in the various regions, feeding costs, equipment for training purposes, and accommodation.
- Inadequate Coaches – Key to our project is the availability of resource personnel. Without these people, how do we transfer this knowledge to individuals? The story of the Ball & Brain project is such that, we currently have just three (3) coaches for the Men’s team of 80 individuals, and two (2) coaches for the women’s team of 50 individuals. These same coaches provide training for large crowds during our Coach the Coaches course and the community soccer clinics. This is clearly not enough, looking at the ratio of individuals per coach.
- Inadequate Training Equipment – Training equipment is essential to undertaking drills during training sessions but the Ball & Brain project lacks a lot of this equipment. Using limited equipment for huge numbers of people delays the training process and limits the impact.
- Pitches – The limited pitches in our communities only mean that we have to make do with the ones we have available. We currently hold training sessions for our community soccer projects at the GIMPA school field – a rocky pitch in devastating and a deplorable state. This pitch doubles as a car park for lecturers of the institution and cannot be used with the slightest rainfall.
As the Ball & Brain project celebrates its sixth anniversary, it is clear that it has made a significant difference in the lives of children in the Anumle Electoral Area as well as all over Ghana. By using football as a tool to promote learning and social change, the project has demonstrated the power of sports to create positive change and inspire new possibilities. As it continues to grow and evolve, it is sure to remain a force for good in the world of education and sports.
Thank you for reading!