The popular American Football, which has made hundreds and thousands of Americans successful is being introduced in Ghana.
The game, which is one of the lesser-known sporting disciplines in the West African country, when settled with the people, could easily become highly acceptable and possibly might compete favourably with soccer, which is currently the most patronized sporting discipline in Ghana.
In an engagement with igoghana, Mr Kwamina Vandyke, the originator and pillar behind the foundation and formation of the American Football Academy in Ghana, said “Never before has an NFL drafted athlete come to Ghana to build a program that will outlast himself, bring transcontinental healing and document the journey of American football revolution in Ghana.
The link below contains a video that captures one of their training sessions:
The journey of NFL
Player, Oren Burks came to Ghana to promote the game, which was initiated by Kwamina Vandyke when the latter accompanied the former (his best friend & former teammate) to Accra, Ghana to build the American football academy.
Burks and Vandyke
Both, are making good on a promise made ten years ago for Burks to visit Ghana (motherland) to discover his African roots.
Below is our interactions and interview with Kwamina Vandyke on things that actually motivated him and his friend to introduce the game of American football in Ghana.
Question 1: What is the name of your company being used to promote American football in Ghana.
Millennial Mayhem production is the company filming the documentary about the work my team and I are doing in Ghana which is helping plant the game of American football throughout the country and
West Africa America Football Academy is the non-profit organization Oren Burks and I started to be able to work with youth in Ghana who are looking to play American football while also providing opportunities to mentor any student-athlete that decides to participate.
Question 2: What collegiate teams have you played for in the USA
I earned a full scholarship to play American football at Virginia Technical in 2012 where I received my bachelor’s degree. I played my last year of football at Hampton University where I was the team captain and all-conference player.
Question 3: How long have you played American football and have been in the NFL
I have played American football from when I was 7 years old up until 24 years of age. I tried out for all 32 NFL teams in 2017 and 2018 but came up short and was not selected to advance past my collegiate career. However, I’ve had several teammates and friends go on to play in the NFL making the work I’m looking to do possible because of their support.
Question 4: Which year did you start the campaign to promote NFL in Ghana or American football precisely
I started in November 2020 when I began organizing and planning for my best friend and professional footballer Oren Burks to come to Ghana.
We held our first camp for the academy in April 2021. These efforts would not have been possible without the camp director Moe Chetam and local producer Terry Oppong whose company BlackBand is the Executive Producer for this documentary and helping Oren and I ensure our vision comes to life!
Question 5: How many communities in Ghana are you targeting and how many people (population) and for that matter how many years do you intend to cover the entire country
We understand that planting football here will take time and requires strategic planning. We’ve decided to break it down by regions and primary schools. My team and I started our campaign to bring American football to Ghana in Accra and so far, we have visited students and alumni from the University of Ghana who are now training with us and has visited the campuses of Achimota, Presec, and Aquinas. We are going to continue organically in reaching out to several more schools in Accra before heading to the Central Region (Cape Coast) and then, the Northern Regions.
Question 6: How many NFL players have visited Ghana so far through the initiative
As of now, the player we have had visit thus far, is Oren Burks, but we are slated to host 6-10 NFL players come February 2023 so we are in preparation for their arrival.
Question 7: Have you taken the Ghanaian players you are training to the USA to see and feel the game
We have not, I’m hoping that this latest trip and the exposure that Ghana media will give, will help the cause I’m passionate about, by bringing investors, stateside to pour into the planting of American football in Ghana. Once we have secured the funds I believe are necessary, I will arrange with my Alana maters and numerous other programs for visit from Ghanaian players.
Question 8: What is the ultimate objective of the project
My objective has always been to impact and empower, and we believe through West Africa American Football Academy. we can aspire to one day have an American football league amongst the High schools in Ghana and also have a pipeline program through the academy to establish for athletes elite enough, to play college football, and then the NFL in the states.
My goal is just to create a new opportunity for youth to participate in and have something to look forward to that gives them skillsets for life beyond the field while also pouring into them as young men with hopes to be great leaders and citizens for the future.
Question 9: How many schools are you currently working with in Ghana
We have two schools that have agreed so far as well as the University of Ghana students participating.
Question 10: Is there any interest to involve females in the game as you spread it nationwide in Ghana
I believe we need everyone’s involvement to grow football to the level I believe it can be in Ghana. American football isn’t usually played by ladies in the states, but there are many ways to contribute to the organic growth of football outside of just playing and ladies are needed and welcome in all parts of American football in Ghana.