Chris and George Wadsworth, our first father and son volunteering team, recently returned home to the UK. They were coaching Dynamo FC during their time in Ho and we caught up with them to see what they thought of their time in Ghana. This is what they had to say.
Q. Why did you choose to volunteer with KickStart Ghana?
As an experienced junior football coach, I applied to KickStart Ghana for a number of reasons. I’m passionate about travel and adventure and of course coaching football. The opportunities afforded by KickStart Ghana satisfied all three. Likewise, I genuinely wanted to use my time to support the KickStart Ghana objectives and return to the UK having made a positive impact for the charity and the people of the Volta region. Furthermore, Kickstart Ghana were able to accommodate my request to have my 15 year old son accompany myself; I hoped that the prospect of sharing a lifetime experience with my son, would leave us both with memories to last a lifetime. I wasn’t disappointed.
Through my employer Barclays, I realised that there was an opportunity to raise valuable funding for Kickstart Ghana and so this provided further focus for me as a coaching volunteer. Coaching in Ghana would no doubt challenge myself as a coach and as a person and this enthused me further.
Q. What did you enjoy about volunteering with KickStart Ghana?
Before travelling out to Ghana, I completed the induction day with KickStart Ghana, which was well organised, a chance to meet fellow volunteers, but most of all gave me the confidence that I would be well supported (and looked after) during my coaching secondment. With a minor in tow, personal safety was even more of a consideration for me and the guys at KSG provided all the information I needed to arrive in the Volta region with confidence.
I particularly enjoyed working with KSG as we not only worked, but socialised on a daily basis with like-minded people and while my son and myself travelled out to Ghana as KSG colleagues, we returned to the UK with strong friendships forged both with KSG volunteers and the fantastic people of Ghana.
There were daily challenges to overcome, but through support and the can-do attitude of KSG, these were challenges to be embraced. Nothing was too much trouble for Dave, Dan, Anna, Chris and the team. Likewise, life at the shared house was great – the food was good too.
The charity is well-organised and the team are approachable, calm, calculated and passionate about their work; a joy to work with.
As previously mentioned, personal health and safety was a consideration and not for one moment while I was in Ghana did I believe that this would be jeopardised at all. Volta region is a beautiful, safe and exciting place to volunteer.
Q. What was your favourite thing about living in Ghana?
Without doubt, the favourite thing about Ghana was the people. The welcome that myself and my son received was absolutely unbelievable. We felt so “at home” with everyday life and Volta culture. It was fantastic to walk down the street and suddenly hear a local shout out our names, with a warm greeting. I’m not ashamed to say there were tears as we left Volta for the UK, but our promise was to return.
At the football coaching itself, we found the players to be courteous, attentive and hard working and ALWAYS played with a smile on their face. The many smiling faces we miss! Whether we coached U10 boys, U18s girls or the senior side, ALL players were keen to learnt and were respectful.
Ghana IS different to the UK and likewise that was part of the appeal for us. Outside of our coaching we trekked through the rain forest, fed Patas monkeys by hand, swam beneath 70 foot waterfalls while watching the bats circle above us. We took a boat down the Volta river watching the locals wash their clothes at the shoreline. We spent a weekend at the beach and experienced a great beach party having swum in the surf. The following day we helped the local fishermen haul in their catch, before a young lad chased us in jest with a “sea snake” which had been caught. Everyone thought this was hilarious…………….everyone apart from me! ;0)
P.s. We returned to the UK having learnt the card game of Ghana (SPAR) and have played it every day since!!
Q. Would you recommend volunteering with KickStart Ghana to others? If so, what would you say?
A wholehearted yes. I chatted with my son on the way home. He’s usually an unemotional teenager, but his remarks alone made the trip worthwhile. “Dad, this was the best two weeks of my life!”