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Tale of two soccer balls illustrates town's obsession with sport, and its need

Date published: 8/27/2007


But the biggest cheer came when I held up the two soccer balls I had bought in Accra at Bikama Enterprise, "Dealers in Fashionable Sport Ware, Equipment & Stationery."

I had quickly learned from the shopkeeper that outfitting two Prince's Town football teams was out of reach. He said it would cost about 20 cedis ($20) to buy one uniform, or $880 to dress the 44 players.

I couldn't afford that, so I bought the two balls at 13 cedis each.

Everyone in Prince's Town seemed to know about the balls as soon as we arrived.

We shared a house with some teachers. Early on our second morning in town, one of the teachers pleaded with me for the balls.

He said that some American students had come to Prince's Town last year to see a total eclipse of the sun.

They had brought a minisoccer ball with them and played a friendly game with the locals between the bamboo goals on the sandy field in the middle of town. When they left town after the eclipse, the Americans gave the ball to the school.

"Now the ball is worn out," said the teacher. "There is no money to buy a new ball. The school's PTA expects the government to provide everything. The PTA contributes nothing, the government not much more."

I told him that I would love to give the balls to the school, but I must give them to the chief. The chief would decide who got the balls.

On our last morning at Prince's Town, a delegation of a half dozen men arrived at our house to talk to our host Acquah, the president of the town's sister-city committee.

As usual, the meeting took place in the shade of the acacia tree in the yard. The discussion was entirely in Nzema. I didn't understand a word, but somehow I fathomed that they were talking about the balls.

When the men left, Acquah told me what happened. He said the delegation consisted of managers and players of the town's two football teams. They said their teams had no balls for practices or games. They needed them as badly as the school.

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