Two years gives results in Ghana
It began at the Dana Cup Hjørring in 2014. Now, two years later after a whole hearted effort from the former Fortuna Hjørring captain and Danish National Team player, Sofie Junge Pedersen, there are results being seen in Ghana.
It is the 23 year old Sofie Junge Pedersen, who is working hard together with DGI Midtjylland. On the other end of the project, in the northern part of Ghana, you will find a girls football team.
This came around in close cooperation with the Ghanian organization YOPP, who are behind the project in their area.
The goal with YOPP Girls is to encourage more girls to play sport.
Girls in Ghana, due to tradition and religion have often been denied the possiblity to play sports. The project is helping to strengthen their social, economic and societal development, which will inturn effect the entire Ghanian society.
The team is made up of the best female players from the nine YOPP districts and apart from their personal development, they will play the part as role models for other girls. The girls are taking part in different tournaments and when they are in their sports camp they study english, math and social studies. This is the team that the Dana Cup supports.
Sofie, who is now playing for FC Rosengård in Malmø, visited Ghana in December for once again to encourage the girls.
She can confirm a very positive development.
Sofie has sent a travel letter to the Dana Cup:
Ghana December 2015
I was in Ghana from the 2nd to the 21st of December. On the 11th to the 13th of December, the YOPP Girls trainer, Alhassan had organized a sports camp for the YOPP Girls from the Dalun district that has around 7.000 inhabitants. The little town is just one of the nice towns where the YOPP Girls come from. The girls had been in school all day, so they arrived to the camps first training around 4.00 pm.
We trained until 6.00 pm and even after a long day and with some of the girls having to travel a long way from their district, it was a very energic training. I could see that they were all excited to be there. They gave each others hugs and their were many smiles.
After training we walked over half a kilometer from Dalun to the Simli Center, which is some buildings that are used for accommodation of the students from Ghana and volunteers from all around the World. The girls have two large rooms with bunk beds and mattresses. They choose teams to make the food and they ate before heading off to bed.
The next morning the training started at 8.00 am in Dalun. The training focused on facing the correct way, so we trained turning. After training it was back to the Simli Center where the girls had lunch, slept a little and had fun. At 3.30 pm we had another training session for one and a half hours before the girls took a shower and headed to the local market. We were driven to the Simli Center from the market in a "motorking", which is a motor biked with a little trailer on the back, they girls managed to all fit in, around 20 girls were on the trailer.
Then it was dinner and funtime again. I stayed in a little cabin next door to the girls rooms and it was fun to visit the girls and watch them dance, have fun with make up, play music and enjoy each others company. Just like I remember the football camps I went to myself.
Training again at 8.00 am. Even though the girls had now trained three times over one and a half days, they could still find the energy to the last hour and a half where the focus was to make space before you pass the ball. From some of the things we had trained earlier, like keeping possesion within your own team, we could see huge improvements from the first training sessions.
After training the girls washed their clothes, ate lunch and we then finished off the camp.
We agreed that they will be role models for other girls back in their districts and take with them what they had learned from the camp. That is one of the goals for the project YOPP Girls. I also told them that I had seen huge improvements and development compared to 6 months ago when I visited last time.
In the Simli Center you will find the local radio station and the whole team went over to do an interview. Alhassan, me and around ten girls spoke about the camp and while we were on air, the telephone was ringing non stop - it was the public ringing in to ask the girls questions.
We agreed to use the radio more in the future to tell the local people how good it is for the girls to play football. It was a huge experience for the girls to be a part of a radio program. After the interview the girls were handed out their money to get their bus home to their local district.
It is very obvious that it means a lot for the girls to be a part of YOPP Girls. They are smiling, laughing and fighting hard to develop themselves.
The camps also give the girls the possibility to have a little break from their daily lives where they have many chores in their homes.
Selv confidence, cooperation and more than ever the belief that girls can play soccer just like the boys is achieved when participating in the YOPP Girls activities and the girls are now famous also outside their districts.
When the team is playing in tournaments like "Unity Games", the coach Alhassan receives many contacts from girls who wish to be a part of the YOPP Girls project. So the team is doing their part as role models.
Sofie Junge Pedersen