Ghanaian-American: World Cup an opportunity to share rich heritage with son
My Ghana Football Association shirts and jerseys sparked many conversations over the past month with complete strangers about the World Cup and America’s chance of advancing in the games.
It was incredibly refreshing to see Americans interested in something the rest of the world has been passionate about for decades.
Many of us remember the days when we had to order special antennae to mount on our rooftops and pray that we could catch some Arabic or Latin American TV network to watch the World Cup – if the weather and the luck were on your side.
For me, an American-born Ghanaian who worked in television news, having access to international newsfeeds was a huge perk.
USA vs. Ghana
Back then, most of my co-workers had never heard of the World Cup with the exception of the sports director, who normally only cared about the winner and had no interest in the drama that unfolded as each of the group games whittled down to the championship game.
The sports director’s argument for his non-interest wasn’t unfounded – after all it was common knowledge that Americans had no interest in soccer.
As a result of the increased interest has come discontent with me (an American) rooting for Ghana. Since both the USA and Ghana were in the same group, they had to play each other.
I saw this as an opportunity for me to pass on to my son the opportunity to know and love our beloved Ghana as we grow up away from it. The USA defeated Ghana on June 16.
Started rooting early
When I heard that the Ghana Black Stars were playing a friendly match in South Florida just before their arrival in Brazil, I immediately made arrangements for us to go. It may seem unpatriotic to some, but it is not often a piece of my family’s background presents itself in my backyard.
My son, Isaiah, and I had the opportunity to meet Black Star Player Michael Essien and former team team captain Stephen Appiah, both of whose names appear on the backs of the two Ghana Football Association jerseys Isaiah has worn since he was a baby.
To be able to provide my son, who doesn’t remember his visit to Ghana, this opportunity was such a blessing for us both.
Isaiah and I were in the SunLife Stadium in Miami Gardens on June 9, decked out in our Ghana football shirts, cheering at the top of our lungs for the Black Stars as they beat South Korea 4-0. Also present at the match was German-Ghanaian actor and Atlanta resident Boris Kodjoe.
And even though the tables turned and the USA defeated Ghana in their opening game, I still remain proud of the both teams. I was even more proud of my son, who continued to wear his Ghana jersey to summer camp even after The Black Stars lost to the U.S. team.
It has been great to watch Americans tap into the joy and drama of the World Cup games and be able to share interest in an event I’ve known and loved for years.
Isaiah and I are already looking ahead to Team USA and The Black Stars’ run in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Game.
By Sandra Bentil, a Tampa-based journalist, is a first-generation Ghanaian-American with family in the U.S., Europe and Africa.