Going to a football match in Ghana has always been on our bucket list for our time here. The roaring crowds, the passionate commentary, the electric atmosphere…and, yes I’m sorry to say, the vuvuzelas. While I’ve watched local games at the mine, the top of the list would be to watch a game at Kumasi Baba Yara Stadium. Kumasi stadium is regarded as the heart of Ghanaian football and the spiritual home of the national team, the Black Stars.
So you can imagine how excited we were when Bill’s work managed to get tickets to the Ghana-Zambia World Cup qualifier match for Brazil 2014! Woo hoo!
But first up, a confession. I’m no huge football fan, actually I’m not even a huge sport fan, so there was more than a pang of guilt when I knew so many die-hard fans couldn’t get tickets to the game. But I’m so thrilled we went.
Then more weaving through the crowds and hawkers, selling the ubiquitous supporters souvenirs. The atmosphere was hectic, as we each clung to a child’s hand and pushed our way through the throngs of people, trying to find our gate. Past Army soldiers bearing machine guns and Police in full riot gear. Once inside, everyone, not just us, palpably relaxed, and the atmosphere took on more of a party feel. We wove our way up three flights of stairs, rewarding us with the finest view of Kumasi I’ve ever seen.
We settled into our booth, and soaked up the crowd.
I’m sorry I can’t provide you with anything much in the way of football commentary. All I know is that Ghana fielded a full international team with the exception of the goalie, who was from the local Asante Kotoko team. And somewhat embarrassingly, the only Ghanaian player we knew was the skipper, Asamoah Gyan, who famously dances Azonto [an awesome and wildly popular Ghanaian high life dance. Make sure you watch to 37 seconds and see the white guy dance too!] whenever he scores a goal. (Unfortunately he didn’t score, but Cecie did see him dancing Azonto at the Golden Tulip after the game!). A good roundup can be found at here.
While having the box was a cool haven to the crowds outside, we did feel somewhat removed from the excitement, so Bill and I kept sneaking out to soak up some atmosphere. Here is a snippet of the Ghanaian national anthem, accompanied by 20,000 vuvuzelas, and the start of the game!
Some shots of the game, it would feel a little remiss to leave them out:
Lining up for a…
The ubiquitous half time pee-stop.
I always find it surprising at the end of a game, particularly one as important as this one, how quickly the crowd disperses, and makes their way into the night. We enjoyed the view from the third floor balcony, waiting for the crowds to move on.
And just a little more…
It was thrilling moment and perhaps a timely reminder of why we made this move. This really is Africa.