Stuart Pollock - Rugby in Ghana
I travelled to Ghana on the 17th August 2009 to do a sports coaching project. On arrival I was greeted by one of the Projects Abroad staff who was very friendly just like everyone else I was to meet on my trip. The Ghanaian people are all so happy and friendly and all just want to meet you and shake your hand.
Ghana is a beautiful country with fantastic landscapes and awesome beaches. It was not anything like imagined but was so much better. I was based in the capital of the central region Cape Coast 2 to 3 hours outside the capital, Accra. August is the end of the rainy season so it is not as warm as it gets later in the year but was still very warm for me most days but I’m from Scotland so that’s not hard!
My project was coaching rugby to the local rugby team in Cape Coast. I was introduced to the rugby development officer for the central region of Ghana who was the coach of the team I was to take charge of. We travelled together to the training field, which was nothing more than an open space of land in amongst houses. I delivered a 2-hour rugby session to people ranging from 7 up to the age of about 27 all training together and skills of all levels and all wanting to do contact on the hard ground.
When I first started the coaching I only had about 12 guys taking part but by my last session I had about 30 guys down taking part. They are all very keen to learn and they made leaps and bounds on improving on the skills they had and started to learn some new ones by the end of my time there. The boys were all up for having a laugh but as soon as training started they get their heads down to business and worked hard.
When I wasn’t coaching I was either hanging out with other volunteers or with my host family. We did a wide range of things, for example going shopping in the market or going to some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. I made lots of friend with both volunteers and locals. Other activities that I did were going to the rain forest and doing the canopy walk over the top of all the trees where you could see monkeys in the wild. Another day all the volunteers went to a restaurant where there were wild crocodiles in the pond next to it.
All the volunteers would meet up every Monday night at the Projects Abroad regional office for any information that we needed to be given then have a quiz and we’d often go off to the pub afterwards. There are volunteers of all ages, so there is always someone that is more your own age but it doesn’t matter to much as everyone tends to get on with everyone and no one is ever left out. The Project Abroad staff are fantastic and do anything to make your stay as good as they can. I decided while there that I wanted to stay longer and all I had to do was mention it to them and they worked it all out like how much it cost and the changing of flights.
My trip to Cape Coast was by far the best experience of my life and I will definitely go back one day to see everyone again. I’d recommend doing volunteer work to anyone and Projects Abroad as the company to do it through. I hope that I was able to teach people there as much as what I learnt from them and I know that I’ve now got some new friends for life that I’ve kept in regular contact with since leaving. It is a costly thing to do but it is worth every penny and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my adventure to Ghana.