Source: The Ghanaian American Journal
By: Fred Kojo Kyeremeh and Kwasi Ntem-Mensah
GAJ – Soccer is indeed the quintessential international language of sports. This was fully manifested during the game between the United States Men’s Soccer team and the Ghana National team, the Black Stars.
In our sometimes acrimonious and color-laden American political climate of black versus white, blue versus black, Red states versus Blue states, the almost 30, 000 teeming fans at the Pratt and Whitney stadium had a good excuse to simply absorb and appreciate the kaleidoscopic hue of red, white, blue, yellow, and green colors representing the majestic flags of the United States and Ghana. It was simply beautiful.
The United States and Ghana share something in common, both countries were colonized by the British, and this was the weekend both countries celebrated their emancipation from their former colonizers. For the United States, it was the beginning of the long weekend culminating with the 4th of July Independence Day celebrations. For Ghana on the other hand, it was the day the small West African nation became a Republic, indicating it’s a sovereign nation, free from the appendages of the British crown. It was therefore no surprise when supporters of both teams came out, resplendent in their national colors with many even wearing both colors, representing their common allegiance to America and Ghana.
The American Outlaws, the official USMNT fan base were out in full force, kicking off the day with their signature pre-game tailgate event at the peripheries of the Pratt and Whitney stadium.
Not to be outdone, The Ghanaian American Journal (GAJ), an online news magazine for Ghanaians in America, organized perhaps one of the most well attended tailgate events for a soccer game, across the street from the stadium at the Silver School. The huge parking lot was filled with Ghanaian fans from all across the United States.
On June 29th, WNPR’s “Where We Live” radio show, collaborated with the Ghanaian American Journal to do a special feature about Ghanaians in Connecticut. http://wnpr.org/post/local-ghanaians-celebration-community-and-soccer-rent and their anticipation towards the game.
With the massive support of Ghanaians in Connecticut, especially those in the Hartford region, Ghanaians who came from near and far to witness the game and celebrate Ghanaian culture, were given the expected Akwaaba (welcome). Fans came from as far as Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Virginia just to mention a few. There were buses from New York and other New England states. People met long lost classmates and family members. Fans danced to the latest Ghanaian music as they prepared for the special “Gyama” session, a very sacred musical ritual reserved for important soccer games.
The atmosphere was electrifying, the air was crisp, sweet and tangy Ghanaian spices filled the air as fans prepared to have a taste of their favorite Ghanaian dish such as Waakye, kelewele, spicy goat soup, yam and fried turkey, check-check (Rice, chicken and salad), Kenkey and grilled tilapia among others.
July 1st brought back memories of our childhoods in Ghana, when schools would close early for huge international soccer games. Entire families sat together, and everyone, both young and old held the position of a “soccer coach” for the duration of the game because we could predict and identify all the mistakes that were being made by the players.
Indeed, having an understanding for the game of soccer, means having an understanding for a language spoken through masterful dribbles and kicks. It is a game of peace and a game of love. It is a game that gives a developing nation of 25 million people, the opportunity to compete fairly and squarely with a world superpower of over 300 million people. Yes, under soccer we are all equal. In fact, we are so equal, our score lines since 2006 has consistently emphasized that.
In 2006, Ghana beat the USMNT 2:1 in Germany. In 2010, Ghana again beat the USMNT 2:1 in South Africa. However, in 2014, the USMNT for the first time ended Ghana’s streak with a 2:1 victory in Brazil during the 20th FIFA World Cup. Then again in 2017, the USMNT consolidated its victory from 2014 by again beating Ghana 2:1.
However, in the end, the score line did not matter, it was the unity and love for our two nations that prevailed…Once again, we were united through the game of Soccer.