Serving Ghana through Sport

Sports Friends has been present in Ghana for 7 years. Currently there are two full time national staff plus two volunteer trainers facilitating the training and ongoing support of 283 coaches.  There are around 2,900 youth playing on soccer, volleyball, and netball teams around the country this year, and each of them have been strategically surrounded by men and women who love them and are passionate to see them know the depth of the love of God. We interviewed the in-country director, Ben, to try to get a better idea of what the spiritual and social environment is like that they are working in. Some of the difficulties of our Ghanaian brothers and sisters are familiar globally, and some are more specific to their corner of the world. Please join us in supporting them with prayer, thanks, and understanding.

What are three of the biggest struggles for youth in Ghana?

Alcoholism. Teenage pregnancies. Poor parenting. Some parents don’t even care if their children have eaten or not, others are single parents. Their children go to school through primary, and that is it, they stop going. It is a parenting issue, they do not care. Sometimes our students abandon school to get daily bread by doing menial jobs, etc. 

What are some of the particular challenges for your coaches?

One of the challenges for the coaches is the commitment and support of the church to the ministry. For example, they need a new ball and the church cannot afford one. So the ministry is not able to function with only minimal support of the church. Also, the coaches are volunteers, and some of them are not able to commit to the team and also go to work to provide daily bread for their family. In these cases, we advise the coaches to work during the week, and do sports ministry on the weekend. 

In Ghana, what are some of the barriers to the growth of the ministry?

I think in most cases it is the issue of the number of new coaches that need to be trained. Also the availability, commitment, and support of the local church. The coaches are volunteering, and sometimes they feel alone and get discouraged. There is also a need for skills training, job training for the coaches [so they can get better local jobs and have more time to spend with the kids]. 

What are some specific ways we can pray for you, for the coaches, the youth, and the ministry in general?

We need prayer for our coaches, that God will give them wisdom as they lead the youth. Pray for the coordinators in the denominations, for wisdom as they organize coaches training and events. Pray for me (Ben) and Josiah, who oversee the trainings. We really need the wisdom of God and the grace of God as we share the vision with high-level national officials. Please pray for the completion of the partnership agreements that will allow training of local coaches and further outreach. Pray for growth in faith in the kids that have placed their life in Christ, that they will realize their life in Christ and surrender their lives to Him. And pray for those who haven’t accepted Christ, that they will come to know Him. Pray for the number of coaches to increase so that other young people can join. There are many kids waiting for a coach; we need more coaches.

What are specific ways you see God answering your prayers in Ghana?

The blessings are seeing youth and families excited about the ministry, seeing their lives changed. We are seeing young people giving their lives to Christ and seeing churches being planted; we’ve had four churches planted. Parents are stating they see their children changed, their attitude and character changed. Lives are being transformed. 

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