After all the hype, Football Beyond Borders 2010 was beginning to unravel. A day of travelling and then another to recover. Yet we now found ourselves on the side of a bone-dry pitch, on a humid Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t for the faint hearted; fast paced technical football from the Ghanaian University Champions represented a different footballing culture to the British one that encouraged hopeful long balls and last ditch slide tackles. We would soon find ourselves toiling away, “pass and move” with an effortless physical prowess that left us chasing shadows.
One-nil down at half-time and almost every sinew of energy exerted, “don’t chase the ball” just “let the ball do the work” the coaches told us. Yet the round ‘ball’ that we’d all grown up with, the ‘ball’ that we’d kicked together back home uniting us as friends now seemed so different. This was a ‘ball’ that was hard to retain and even harder to retrieve. British brute force was futile in the face of this African artistry, the Ghanaians danced on the ball and we were forced to watch and learn as we ran in vain. This was a baptism of fire into the Sub-Saharan African heat.