CanoeVibes: For us in Prampram, the Futsal league is not just a game…

Bilal Aryertey of Don Ziggy FC

One Sunday afternoon after a fixture had been finished, a woman selling pastries was beaming. She counted the money in a white plastic bucket, put everything together, and screamed in Dangme: “I have made GH¢400 profit”, drawing attention to herself despite the post-game Afrobeat tunes being unleashed by the resident disc jockey (DJ).

She was excited and on her battered mobile phone, she told somebody that she had discovered a new market at the Methodist School Park. On that day especially, the game was between Inter Prampram and Obama City, the park was filled with spectators. That day witnessed the biggest crowd since PramcitiTV started streaming the games live, back in early July. The numbers have continued to grow thanks, in part, to the selfless devotion of the Multimedia platforms Joy FM, Asempa FM, Hitz Fm, etc. to the league.

These networks announce fixtures on their platforms and that has also helped swell the numbers. These increasing numbers are translating into financial benefits for those who have set up shops and started to make good money.

The truth is, I did not think much about what the lady said until later, around 9pm, when I sat down in my home library to edit the photos and scripts for our social media pages and midstream media. I came across an image of a pure water seller, ‘bofrot’ seller, and ‘okada’ riders who were doing good business on that day. Those images gave me a greater meaning to what the PramcitiTV Team and I had gotten ourselves into. Publicity for the games is helping put food on the table for households.

Martei of Obama City

Before I went to bed, I called up Ronnie – founder of PramcitiTV, and told him about what I had experienced on the pitch. We both agreed to keep what we initially thought would be a brief coverage going. Thanks to the support of local businessman Nii Ayerh, who has been supporting the league in his small way, and that of other self-financing business operators like Nii Kwei Ice Kenkey, Blessed Electronics, who deal in quality made and affordable phones, the players who excel in each game are incentivised.

The league has been running for close to four years, but we came in early July to watch a game and are happy to be assisting in our own small way to push the project. The organisers have been extremely welcoming and, that has also encouraged us to stay on.

We both appreciate the difficulties in our community but, then again, if the games help bring some ray of hope into the lives of people, we are on the right path. Beyond the food vending activities, the league has opened my eyes to the abundance of footballing talents in Prampram whose gifts need to be seen and enjoyed by the footballing world. I have seen good players in all the teams participating in the league, and anytime I have asked about some of them and which teams they play for, the answer is always negative.

The furthest their talent has taken them was right here on the grassless pitch, where they team up with other friends to play on weekends. Their stories are very painful and that really hurts me. When it comes to footballing talents, Prampram, like any of the footballing hubs in the country, is pregnant with talents that fall off the cliff.

Nothing in life comes easy but the truth is that most of these guys have never been lucky to either walk into an opportunity, or anyone locating them. Unfortunately, there is nothing either myself or others can do for them because age is no longer on their side.

However, the young ones coming through the games deserve a shot at the big stage. I have so far identified two teenagers who are making a difference in the league. Martei of Obama City and Bilal Aryertey of Don Ziggy FC. In their teens and nowhere close to voting age, both left-footed players have taken the league by storm. For those of us who come from low-income communities, it takes grace to uproot us from our financially handicapped situations and bless us with opportunities.

But for the opportunity I had, even after the maze of disappointments and doubts, the story about me would have been different. My own story is what has really motivated me to help push the league into the light, with the hope that somebody somewhere will see these boys and bless them with opportunities, the impact of which will transcend far beyond them.

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