Tag Archives: Country

Ever seen Skate Soccer?

Last night Ghana qualified by default for the AFCON after Nigeria drew against South Africa.  Ghana is celebrating this morning.

In a country where the divide between rich and poor grows bigger day-by-day, soccer is the one thing that unites Ghana.  It does not matter how much money you have in the bank, the closer the balance to zero, the bigger your love for the game.

It is impossible to ignore the beggars on the street. Everyday they press up against the windows of your car, knock on the glass windows to draw more attention and beg and grumble out loud for a few peswas. When you give them a few coins today, they sometimes remember you and the car you drive, and tomorrow they are back – same thing, different day.  There are different kinds of beggars. Some are just lazy to work, some are blind and some are handicapped, or old and forgotten.  The worst are the ones who beg with tiny babies, never getting older than a few weeks. same woman, different baby every few weeks. Do they rent the babies from their mothers and share the loot begged for the day?  The most scary beggars are the polio survivors on handmade skateboards that  manoeuvre through the streets in slow moving traffic. Strangely, when a huge soccer match is showing, there are almost no beggars on the streets. The streets are quiet and almost deserted, because all of Ghana is somewhere in front of a TV, supporting their team.

Then there are the ones who will play soccer for the love of the game.

Ghanaians do it with colourful flair – with their own style!  Surviving Polio is not enough to keep these guys from Playing Soccer.

So whats your excuse?  Me? I am a girl, but weekends I wash soccer gear of my son.

All of Ghana is soccer CRAZY. And I love it.

Walking in a bustling shopping centre, it’s not uncommon to come across groups of adoring fans watching a game through a shop Front window;

excited and cheering loudly. Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, West ham etc…  these Internationals are the teams that count.

On weekends my driver Victor Dogbatse plays a game somewhere close to where he lives. Over weekends they play different teams in other areas all over Accra. In some of these teams are previous professional players, playing now for the love of the game.  Those that don’t play are all somewhat involved, either watching or washing dirty soccer gear during the weekend.

We often travel around Accra and its surroundings. There are grass-less self built soccer fields in even the smallest of Villages. When the game is on, it’s the highlight of the day as everybody gathers for the best views.  Food stalls and soft mineral sellers add a party flair to the festivities. What a fun way to spend time amongst friends and family.  Small kids’ run about dressed in bright oversized Soccer shirts with names like Lampard or Mata, kicking and hustling for a tattered ball.

Ghanaians proudly wear the teams’ colours, know their team’s players stats and cheer wildly for their respective sides.

So why all the British Support?

I blame it on the local TV Stations!  Of course, it is easier (and surely more costly) to download a game directly from Satellite rather than Operating an Outside Broadcasting Van (OB-van) and having your own-trained TV crew to cover a local game.

Watching it on a TV Screen with chanting crowds and live commentary and visual slow-motion retakes are much more entertaining.

Don’t you dare slag the national team the “Black Stars”!  Even with 20 teams in the local league, it’s just not as exciting without the all the TV drama and commentary build up.

Sometimes you know that some mayor teams are playing without being close to a TV. The Taxi drivers all have their radios tuned to the live satellite radio –broadcasts and passengers and drivers honk their hooters, cheer through their open car windows and wildly wave team flags in the air.

Yes it’s true, they are soccer crazy…

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Some are born Nomads

Coping as an expat in a strange country is sometimes more difficult than it sounds.  Just as newly weds need some time to adjust in a new marriage, the same applies to you and a different country.

Should you be in a high demanding job that requires you operate at full speed as soon as you hit the ground, your spouse often feel overwhelmed and lonely. In Europe, USA and America its easier to work as a spouse, but in Africa you are often not allowed to work as an accompanying spouse.

Settling into a new house or apartment, in a new office, driving on the wrong side of the road, in a new car, working with new colleagues, with a strange culture and sometimes stranger language can be quite daunting. It is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Keeping in touch with worried parents, forgetful friends and inquisitive Facebook acquaintances is cumbersome and requires some tact and time.

Finding other interests or keeping up with things you used to love in your home country can be a challenge. There is normally something to do weather it is taking up a sport like tennis, or learning a new skill such as speaking a another language – the secret is in reaching out. All too often I have seen people becoming grid-locked in a vicious triangle of work, house and home country visits. That is so sad as they never feel a sense of belonging, how temporary

If you are unsure of yourself, your own culture, or your origins, you just might be lost forever.  Having a partner to share experiences makes it easier. Then again your relationship can only go one of two ways. It can become stronger or explosive.  Kids could complicate matters more, especially for first time expats.  Some expats are lonely, hermit-like, some wrap themselves up in the new surrounding culture, some count the days to return home and some just take to it like fish to water. Pets are wonderful companions, always happy and non-judgemental.  Some expats fly their animals all over the world, some aquire pets in their new base country. There are always expat families happy to continue taking care of the animals once you leave.

Some expats are naturally born Nomads – forever enchanted by distant places. They travel often, and not necessary on home visits.  Others are offered insane expat packages with plenty of travel tickets and interesting expat benefits. Most learn from other expats and each new posting results in a better expat package. Many expats venture out once or twice, some make it a career path or life choice.

An old wise man once advised me to find just ONE thing that I really enjoy doing, and to keep doing it.

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

I have learned, that I definitely don’t always know what I want, but I am pretty sure now, of the things I don’t like.