by adinortey

Brong Ahafo Region celebrated the Ghana Golden
Jubilee Anniversary festival with part of its theme “The Youth the Way forward for the Future. Glentoran Football Academy believes that youth, in every society, is the backbone of its economy, and hence, take serious issue with problems youth encounter that discourage their proper upbringing and ultimately to build a better Ghana. Gender equality and streetism is our main concern among the youth in the Brong Ahafo Region. Our concerns are always directed to the relevant authorities to help solve these problems and to build a better future for the underprivileged children. Glentoran Football Academy uses this path to help the government fight this menace.
Brong Ahafo Region, known to be the second largest region in Ghana, have a large number of street children and gender equality problems, mostly generated from certain cultural practices of surrounding towns and villages. Some of the cultural practices include:
• Child Betrothal: This involves girls been given to marriage before puberty. Families who are in desperate need of money and hurry to collect their child’s bride price practice this. This practice can lead to children becoming mothers before reaching maturity and is difficult for them raising their children.
• Female Genital Mutilation: This involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia, or procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is practiced on females between the ages of 10-15.
• Trokosi: This is a customary rite where a virgin girl is taken to a shrine to pay for the wrong doings of a family member. The girl is bestowed to the shrine and loses the chance of getting married. She is believed married to the fetish priest once the rite is performed.
The outcome of these practices are that some of the perpetrators do not seem be aware of the consequences of their actions. Apart from puberty a rite, which instils a sort of morality in adolescent girls, the rest are acts that infringe fundamental human rites.
Child marriage and trokosi tend to shatter the dreams of many girls. Education becomes a topic of less importance and girls are not given the opportunity to exhibit freely what they are capable of doing in future. Females, who cannot handle the situation, end up running away from home. This, in the long run, makes them resort to either engaging in manual work, or prostitution, for their survival.
The increase in the number of such problems is of great concern to all stakeholders including the Department of Social Welfare, the Local, District and Municipal Assemblies and other Non-governmental organizations as well.

Background Information
The project involved all the 19 Districts and Municipalities within the Brong Ahafo Region. Local Circuit Physical Education Instructors, from local schools, used sports tournaments to select participants from each locality to participate in the District Tournament and from there selected participants to participate in the Regional Tournament held at Sunyani.
A number of events and activities used in achieving the needed results included:
• Seminars on gender equality and the danger of children living on the streets were given to coaches from all District and Municipal.
• Seminars conducted for participants of the various sporting activities.
• Tournaments held for Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer, Athletics, Women’s Netball, Women’s Basketball, and Men’s Basketball.

• Awareness raised on the profile of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in the Brong Ahafo Region
• Speeches, dramas, and documentaries used to reach both participants and spectators.
The activities of the academy in the various districts have generated both male and female football teams in five districts which the Assemblies have pledged to take care of it with Nike materials, donated by Mercy Corps, used as incentive for this development. The districts are Techiman, Asunafo, Berekum, Dormaa and Kintampo.

Project Goal and Objectives
In line with the District and Municipal Assemblies existing schedule and as part of our stated objectives, a thorough follow-up was completed on 85% of all participants regarding how our program has affected them. From the information gathered our findings note a significant improvement in attitude on gender equality, an increase in school enrolment and attendance, as well as, an increase in parent and societies inclination to avoid streetism, ect. Glentoran Football Academy will continue on-going monitoring.
The following activities were completed:
Three separate seminars on gender equality and the dangers of children living on the streets were organized for all the 19 District and Municipal Assemblies Coaches.
We conducted five seminars for participants of the various sporting events.
We held 11 separate sports competitions during the 5-day. 40% of the participants who were involved in the tournament were women:
• Men U17 Soccer
• Men U14 Soccer
• Women U17 Soccer
• Women U14 Soccer
• Men’s Basketball
• Women’s Basketball
• Men’s Volleyball
• Women’s Volleyball
• Women’s Netball
• Men’s Athletics
• Women’s Athletics
d. Raise the awareness of the UN MDG’s in Brong Ahafo Region
e. Raise awareness about the need to address the gender equality and the poverty that leads to street children.
f. Speeches, Documentaries, Dramas etc were also organized alongside the games.
These programs have opened the gates for all the population within the regions to know about gender equality, dangers of being on the streets and the need to enroll their children for basic education. In addition, it has helped to inform others about the MDG’s as set by the United Nations and how we all have to work together to achieved them.
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Project Activities
The program began with an inter-schools sports tournament in the field of soccer, basketball, netball and athletics, organized by the Municipal Education Service and Glentoran Football Academy. Participants were selected from across the Sunyani Municipality based on their merits in the various disciplines to partake and compete for Sunyani District
Numerous schools participated in these games comprising those from the Junior High School and the Senior High School. It took a week to complete these events. .15 teams participated in the tournament involving 700 children.
After these games Nike kits, donated by Mercy Corps, were distributed to participating schools to motivate them, raise their awareness and interest in what they are capable of doing through sports.

The District Sports Tournament organized by the Ghana Education Service, with Glentoran Football Academy as sponsors, in all the Districts and Municipalities capitals with the theme “Using football to bring the change we all need”. The various schools in the districts were divided into zones to select the final teams to participate in the Regional Tournament held later at Sunyani. There were 50 teams and 3000 participants involved from all the Districts and Municipalities to select the winners for the Regional Tournament.
25 Seminars and Forums were organized by Gender Activists and Pastors for participants, coaches and spectators, , They gave speeches on the dangers, causes, mainstreaming, stigmatization and effects on street children, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS as well as fun events including dramas, documentaries and music that everyone enjoyed.
Some 350 participants who could not excel at their various disciplines were still given Nike products as incentives

The Regional Tournament took place at Sunyani where Glentoran Football Academy took part again as organizers and participants. Each day at the event was like a celebration for the children and youth who participated in the event.
Each of the 19 district brought 80 participants (50 boys and 30 girls), 8 officials, and 50 community/opinion leaders. Approximately 1,700 participated in the tournament and everybody benefitted from the items distributed. Those Districts and Municipalities who could not bring the required number of participants were unable to participate in some of the disciplines, but were still able to be involved in some events and this did not affect the games.
A fun fair organized in the evening of the last day of the tournament for the participants, coaches and spectators and to mark the end of the event.
The event took five days and everybody who attended including officials and participating districts benefited from the Mercy Corps donated materials. The kits were used as an enticement and motivation to the children who participated, many of them came from vulnerable homes. Some of these children have become friends with the students at Glentoran

1 Note: All the Districts and Municipals Education Services had their own inter-schools tournament throughout the Region.

Football Academy and have developed the idea of exchanging letters. This has provided Glentoran Football Academy authorities the ability to arrange opportunities for them to participate in our regular activities.
Many important resource persons including the Regional Education Director Mrs. Akubour Debra were there to deliver encouraging messages to the youths to motivate them.
In his speech given at the Sunayni Regional Tournament, Mr. William Aning Frimpong, Project Director of Glentoran Football Academy, commented:
“We will in our best way provide for the needy and the underprivileged since we are blessed and fortunate to receive these items and kits from Mercy Corps, which we can use as a tool to give people a brighter future, especially the youth, who are less privileged and at the same time help them feel that there is opportunity for them in the future ”

152 coaches and 50 Community/Opinion leaders attended the gender equality forum. As it is the culture of the Region to discriminate against the female gender, many of the girls are neglected and are constraint to stay at home to look after the family thereby loosing the opportunity to have basic education. The coaches, who also act as Physical Education Instructors at their various schools, and the community/opinion leaders learnt the need to encourage the people in the community to treat females as equal. The community leaders who attended our program have been able to set-up training programs for females to participate in activities, such as football matches, in the localities. Parents and wards have been sensitized about giving their female children the same opportunities they offer their male counterparts. This forum has helped coaches and community/opinion leaders to know what they can do help females to escape these menace and parents to know what to do to help fight against gender discrimination.

5 separate seminars was attend by participants to learn the many rules and regulations of the various events of the tournament, as well as the aims and objectives of the tournaments, prizes at stake, sense of fair play, equality , sense of responsibility etc.
The Physical Education instructors from all the Districts and Municipalities who served as match officials as well facilitated these. In all 1500, children participated in this seminar, which brought them together to compete as a team. The percentage ratio of male to female participants was 60:40
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1500 participants (male to female ratio of 60:40) were involved in the tournament from all the 19 District and Municipalities, as well as the children of Glentoran Football Academy.
Male and female events held during the 5 days of the Regional Tournament also included mixed matches; the girls mix with boys to form teams as way of fun. This helped the raise awareness and the moral of the female participants knowing that they can now rumble shoulders and compete in other spheres of life as well.
There were few surprises at the tournament; the overall winners of the tournament were Techiman, followed by Berekum and Sunyani. Tournaments favorites Sunyani Municipality with their vociferous spectators as host were winners of the U14 Men’s Football Tournament and lTain District won the women’s Basketball. The overall Best Soccer player went Papa Arko of Attebubu-Amantin for the U17 Men’s Football and Kwasi Gyamfi of Pru won the U14 Men’s Football best player respectively. The Women’s Football U17 Aminatu Baba (Asutifi) and U14 Kyeraah Boatemaa(Sene) respectively

A speech given on the Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations, by the chair of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice of the Brong Ahafo Region to participants, officials and spectators. The issue of gender equality and the poverty that leads to street children were addressed. It was during this event we realized half of the people at the function did not know about the MDG’s in the Region. The speakers, therefore, took their time to explain and participants were allowed to ask questions. Approximately 2500 people attended this event.

Participants and spectators enjoyed documentaries, speeches and a drama on various social problems such as, prostitution. Ten events held on HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, the dangers of being on the streets etc with approximately 2000 people in attendance. These were presented by ex-offenders, ex-prostitutes, Doctors, Religious Leaders etc . Condoms were also distributed to spectators and officials by the kind courtesy of Plan Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG).
Beneficiary Profile and Selection Nike items, donated by Mercy Corps, were distributed from the District Level to the Regional Tournament as prizes and appreciation of children and officials involved in the program.
Various items including soccer jerseys (shirts, shorts and socks), football boots, sport shoes, basketball jerseys, tracksuits, bags, watches, footballs, T-Shirts, jackets, were distributed to coaches, participants, Community/Opinion leaders. Also members of the public who partook in our events benefited, including officials who either facilitated, chaired or were resources persons in the seminars and forums, as well as those who helped with the arrangements and organizing of the various events and activities.
See Annex 1 for complete distribution list.

Glentoran Football Academy received some of the donated some of the donated items due to their participation in the tournament to replace the old kits the children have at the academy.
The academy has helped many children from going wayward especially children from the streets. It has provided them with clothes, food and shelter thereby preventing them from child labor. Some of these children are training to become carpenters, tailors, seamstresses etc.

The district is one of the newly created districts and as such lacks many things. The tournament has been able to expose some of the children to the dangers on the street and to open their eyes regarding gender equality and what females can achieve.

Also one of the newly created districts, they now have jerseys to wear at every tournament organized by the Ghana Education Service and has attracted more children thus compelling their parents to enroll them into schools.

Lessons Learned Though the project was well organized, the delay from the original scheduled caused many extra problems in terms of financial, re-scheduling of transportation for participants, short notice for requesting speakers and resourse persons etc. In the future, we hope to make sure that we forecast a date for our events that we can successfully plan towards.

Next Steps
We have since been approached by various organizations, both non-governmental and governmental; to work with them to help combat some of the problems they are facing in the field of gender equality and street children. The donation from Mercy Corps was a key factor in achieving our objectives.
Success of the Brong Ahafo Regional Tournament and Ghana’s 50th Independence Anniversary Tournament has brought about the need to organize another tournament. We have received enquiries from the Ministry of Manpower and Social Welfare and the Regional Social Welfare about the organization of homeless people. This discussion is ongoing and Glentoran Football Academy Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Antoh Forsythe is in consultation with the organizers of the Homeless World to learn how they organize their tournaments. We hope the decision will come through and Mercy Corps will help us in organizing another Tournament later this year

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