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My goal to help in Africa local footballer heads for Ghana looking to make a difference

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By Craig Lobb 
When talented local footballer Craig Lobb heard about the opportunity to head for Africa to try to make a difference, the Hartlepool man was desperate to give it a go. In the first of a two-part column from Ghana, the 25-year-old explains why he got involved in the ten-week ‘Football for Hope’ project

GHANA has been one of Africa’s strongest developing countries during recent years, but it’s still largely affected by the majority of the population still unemployed and living in poverty.

A new constitution in 1993 meant Ghana became politically stable and invariable improvements were made. But a history of food shortage, unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation facilities and corruption means it remains poverty-stricken and indebted.

After successfully applying to become a volunteer with Lattitude (a partner of ICS) I was invited to an assessment day and interview in Reading. There I was assessed on seven dimensions, including, commitment to learning, practical problem solving and sensitivity to the needs of others.

Lattitude Global Volunteering is an international youth development charity seeking to educate and develop young people worldwide by providing inclusive opportunities from them to make a positive difference to the lives of others through distinctive, challenging, structured and supported international volunteering experience in a culture and community different from my own.

I was inspired to become an ICS volunteer after reading ‘the ragged trousered philanthropist’. First published in 1914 it is based around the failings of the capitalist system, deep inequality and living in oppression. Frighteningly similar to the society we live in to this date.

Lattitude have challenged me to take part in a ten-week placement development programme ‘Football for Hope project’. This will see me working alongside seven other UK volunteers and eight Ghanaian counterpart volunteers. The project will be held in Cape Coast, previously the capital city of Ghana.

It co-operates with an ICS partner ‘Play Soccer Ghana’. They support grassroot education programmes in order to help the youth gain valuable life and work skills. With these skills they will become more employable and be challenged to look for jobs.

I will contribute to projects aimed at tackling issues that the local communities have identified and where they have requested support from teams of young volunteers. Projects are based in both rural and urban areas where they address issues around access to education, livelihoods and health awareness.

As well as helping to raise awareness of Lattitude Global Volunteering I’m also hoping to inspire other open-minded, motivated, distinctive UK based 17-25 year olds who are willing to take the challenge of a lifetime in fighting poverty and making an effective contribution in considerably improving the lives of others.

The UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) funds 90 per cent of the ICS programme. The other 10 per cent is funded by volunteer fundraising. With the fundraising I’ve already managed to promote this personal enhancing opportunity.

On this programme I’m hoping to improve my personal development by becoming immersed into the local culture, sharing cross-culture knowledge and adapting my presentation skills. To embark on these we have been given the chance to live with a Ghanaian host family with one of our counterpart volunteers.

After arriving in Accra we were met by our in-country volunteers. As a traditional way of welcoming they showcased an incredible song and dance.

We have since prepared for our project with an in-country orientation; discussing cultural differences, stereotypes, resource development, action research and peer education.

It was on to Cape Coast from there where our project will take place. We have started to prepare for our first event as a team, so we will be providing a fun day at the ‘Football for Hope’ centre where we will tackle issues on sexual education for the community.

It quickly occurred to me on arrival that the Ghanaian people are full of passion and very patriotic, especially about their football team, currently competing in the Africa Cup of Nations and have progressed to the semi-finals.

So far it’s been a great experience and would advise anyone thinking of making a difference to definitely challenge yourself to change your world.

For more Ghana football news visit www.ghanasoccernet.com

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