CanoeVibes: Don Ziggy – a portrait of Prampram’s Roman Abramovich and his love for youth dev’t


Thrice his team was in the finals, thrice they lost. The last final his team lost was in August, during the Nii Ayerh Homowo sponsored Futsal league at the Methodist Park, Prampram. For anyone who bankrolls a football club, no matter how small the financial package, losing three finals should be discouraging.

It should even be a good time to part ways with the team or reduce the support. But Charles Nartey Botchwey is not a man who easily gives in to adversity. It is not in his DNA. Neither part of his vocabulary. He has grit.

The vision for him is bigger than losing a football final. He wants to support the ambition of talented but needy football stars at the grassroot level. Popularly called Don Ziggy by friends and admirers, he bankrolls Don Ziggy FC, a collection of brilliant footballers who play with pace, power and flare.

The team dazzled spectators during the futsal league in August, and bookmakers put them as favourites to win the tournament. But they lost to an equally competitive and strong Obama City, a team they beat in the preliminary stages. Two months after the game, I bumped into him at a funeral. A big smile flashed across his face. We embraced and spoke for a while. We touched on the last final game and he expressed his readiness to go again.

A man of great Christian faith, he gives meaning to it through deeds. A kind man who does everything within his human ability to be respectful toward people. He uses football as a means of helping the youth in Prampram stay away from trouble. Apart from advising them, he ensures the players are given the appropriate kits to help them focus on football.

Running a football club at any level is always a challenge, even for those with fat financial muscle. The current economic turbulence hasn’t helped but Don Ziggy is unperturbed. Once the children are playing football and not involved in any bad thing, then the pieces of his plans are coming together.

Some of the players under his wings come from homes where the income can’t provide the much-romanticised three-square meal a day. But that is where Don Ziggy steps in and provides the needed support to keep their dreams afloat. He also supports their education. Football alone is not enough, he tells the children.

The current system requires a footballer to have basic requirement in education, so he can read the terms and conditions of his contract. Then, there are those who may not necessarily make it as footballers but can fall on the education to build their lives. There are several examples, and Don Ziggy makes the children aware of that option.

Nurturing football talents, especially in Africa, requires patience; and a lot of it. Anyone involve in the development of players at the grassroots is always interested in the background of the players. Knowing the background helps appreciate their respective temperaments and how to support them in difficult situations. Don Ziggy has a balancing act in this situation, and that is perhaps a reason why he gets the best out of his players.

Apart from running a football team, Don Ziggy also supports activities by the Prampram Hood League (PHL), organisers of competitive league games in Prampram. The PHL has released fixtures for the Nii Ayerh Top 4 X’mas Cup. The first game between Celestial FC and Team Red is on Sunday 3:30pm at the Methodist Park.

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