It is a well known fact that soccer (or more popularly known as football) is the most popular sport worldwide. Although every country seems to get excited for their respective teams reaching the World Cup, the United States has a much higher fan base showing for other sports such as American football or basketball. In Ghana the national soccer team is known as the ‘Black Stars’. This is a play on the black star found in the center of the Ghanaian flag while also giving a ideal of the rich African history displayed every time the players take the field. However, in Ghana, football is not just a sport that players play, but rather a part of the culture that is can unify a nation and in some instances a continent.
When I originally signed up for this summer abroad program I knew that I would be going to Ghana during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I had heard rumors beforehand about the prevalence soccer takes in this country and tried to prepare myself mentally for the extreme levels of fandom. However these people are not just fans of their beloved Black Stars. In their eyes they are a part of the team that can give praise and critique when necessary. I knew that the World Cup is upon us by just walking down the street. Everyone is sporting red, green, and yellow in support of their country. All ages show their support in some form or the other, from the oldest of citizens to the bundled babies. There are also viewing parties in this country that are unparalleled anywhere else I have been. People come by the hundreds in order to catch a good seat for the game. Not a bar or spot is barren when the Black Stars take the field.
Of course fate would have it that the first game the Black Stars would play is the long time rival USA. The first game brought a lot of debate amongst our group about what team had the better chance of winning. The atmosphere in the guest house was fun and competitive amongst the Americans and Ghanaians. Although ultimately the United States came out on top, having the opportunity to witness such a fantastic game in a country that enjoys the sport was quite the experience.
During the last game of the group stages the Ghanaian team was eliminated from contention. This was surprising to many natives and even surprising amongst the students on the trip. As we listened to announcer sob on the radio we understood that this game of football meant more to the country than anything. The success of the team meant success for the country. However, this game was much bigger than just Ghana. It spread across the borders of Ghana and beyond. Uniting all of (sub saharan) Africa for moment in time that will live in history forever.