Atweneboandah, a small dot on the map situated in Ghana’s Western region is bordered by huge farmlands and the popular River Pra.
Relatively a place that inspires footnotes rather than headlines, the people here live on subsistence farming and fishing.
Irrespective of the calm atmosphere, the nature and a future that looks translucently bleak, the children are filled with cheer.
Every morning, they cross the river to the other bank to support their parents on their farm before they can go to school.
Row after row, the kids brave through the calm tides of the waters carefully to reach their destination.
“This is the work we do, when we close from school, we come to farm to get money because there is no money.
“We use the money to buy football equipment and cater for some of our trips.
“After the farming, we go and train and play games if there is any,” says one.
Their situation is dire but there is a ray of sunshine, and they believe that in the beautiful game of football they have hope.
Indigen, Roland Fiifi Ackon set up the Pra Babies football club to help the young boys in the area realize their dreams of becoming professionals in future.
Ackon nurtures the kids, feeds them and provides kits for them to play with. He explains how hard it gets for him to do that consistently.
“It ivery difficult, because you don’t get support from anywhere. The little money you get, you use it to nurture these talents.
“I must say the kids are very supportive, when it’s get tough, I will just go and find a job and they will join for us to go and do so that we will get money to push the team.
“Right now, I must say we don’t have any kids here who is at home, all of them are in school, if you don’t go to school, you can’t play this team,” Roland Ackon said.
Part of football’s power is that it has changed the lives of many. There are many who begin in difficult situations similar to that of Pra Babies and have come out as top stars.
Their mothers know this and are in full support of their kids.
“I have seen that football is developing in Ghana, so if son has decided to play football, I have to help him play it. I can’t do enough so I am pleading to authorities to help us because the kids are good,” one mother said.
A kid’s dream as a footballer is to play in front of big crowds and under the bright lights. Every child who threads the clay pitches in Atweneboandah has a player they look up to. From Real Madrid’s left back Marcelo to Ghana’s Samuel Owusu.
“I play for Pra Babies as a winger. The player I look up to is Samuel Owusu, I want to be like him; I play like him,”
Successful athletes are not refined in comfortable surroundings and in this community far off in the Western lands, there could be a star in the making one ‘baby’ at a time.