The 2015 New Year celebrations got off on a flying football note for hundreds of children in the sprawling suburb of Nima in the Ghanaian capital.
The popular playing pitches of Kawukudi Park hosted the excited children who screamed and jumped to welcome Ghana Black Stars defender, Jonathan Mensah to the event.
Others who also received a rousing welcome were former communications director of the Ghana Football Association, Randy Abbey, CAF/FIFA Coordinator and ex Black Stars defender, Anthony Baffoe and award winning Dancehall artiste Stonebwoy who was mobbed at the entrance to the park.
A number of education, non-governmental organizations and charitable partners including Active Minds Reading Club, Forces Help Ghana and the Ghana Sports Media Alliance joined hundreds of children in reading sessions, mock debates, Azonto competitions and a soccer gala to kick start the new year.
The day long event was jointly organized by the Ghana Volunteers Brigade and supported by the New Nationalist publication.
Books & Boots aims at merging education and recreation especially in communities where there are few or no after-school educational activities for children to experience. Since 2009, Books & Boots has toured over 260 communities in Greater Accra , Tema and Kumasi on a purely Community Volunteer Service (CVS) and non profit basis.
A key feature of the project is that personalities from the world of football and celebrities from the music industry are always were invited to surprise the children as guest readers. The goal is to make learning an enjoyable and almost effortless exprerience through activities that children love to partake in.
The “communities connect” initiative was started by law student Mrs Rita Agyen Takyi which has brought a lot of smiles to the faces of children who at some point in time get the opportunity to be counselled and mentored their role models and heroes.
After years of struggling to get support, the project is slowly attracting international recognition and reviews.
In May 2014, the German coach of Switzerland’s national football team was in Accra to see at first hand, the exploits of Books and Boots. So impressed was Mr. Ottmar Hitzfeld that he has promised to support the project with donations of footballs, jerseys and soccer boots every year.
By seeking to create practical, relevant and a quality store of knowledge for each child and group, Books and Boots has come up with a process whereby education is subtly created through the transformation of experiences into knowledge.
The New year gathering of children from across Nima and environs had a special interaction session on the Ebola education and awareness campaign by various ngo’s, charities and media organisations in particular the Ghana Volunteers Brigade with support from the Forces Help Ghana (FHG) whose UK representative Reuben Kafui Djokoto and the Co-Founder of Forces Help Ghana, Derrick Cobbinah.
Former Black Stars defender and president of the Professional Footballers Association of Ghana, Tony Baffoe also graced the occasion to advise, encourage and caution parents present on how best to support their children who only want to play football at such a young age.
“By all means we must not kill the dreams of our children but we must be responsible to guide them to do the right things first and that means education,” Mr. Baffoe said.
When it came to the football proper, it took eight exciting matches for last year’s runner-up, Dansoman Barca FC to emerge winners after coming from a goal down to beat Strong Towers FC 2-1 . That meant the U-12 team claimed their first title as Books and Boots Champions in addition to their captain taking the overall best player award.
Trophies, medals and prizes including football boots, reading books, school bags, footballs and autographed jerseys from footballer Jonathan Mensah were presented to deserving players by Anthony Baffoe and Alhaji Imoro Issah the Chief of Nima.
Organisers are already planning the next major gathering of Books and Boots in the Ashiaman community of Stonebwoy.
That event promises to be the biggest to date with the young dancehall star eager to bring his ghetto homeland to a standstill with music and reading and soccer.
Credit: Books and Boots Ghana
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