Washington Youth Soccer's Serwaah Fordjour
Takes the World's Game Global

By Brian Beaky
Editor, PlayOn!

Washington Youth Soccer has long had a commitment to community service. Sometimes, though, that "community" can extend all the way across oceans.

In August, Serwaah Fordjour – Washington Youth Soccer's apparel and programs specialist – traveled over 7,000 miles to Ghana to play with, mentor and develop Ghana's emerging women's soccer players.

"In Ghana, there's really no organization for girls soccer," says Fordjour, whose is half-Ghanaian on her father's side. "They have talented players, but they don't have any organized coaching or development structure."

Fordjour – who was raised in the Seattle area, an alum of Shorewood High School and several area clubs – spent the month of August training and playing with Ghana's top professional team, the Fabulous Ladies. While Ghana's players are fast and highly skilled from a physical and technical perspective – with excellent speed and ball-handling skills – the tactical side of their game is still largely underdeveloped.

In 1999, when the Women's World Cup was played in the U.S., Kwadwo (pronounced "Kojo") Fordjour – Serwaah's father – helped organize friendly competitions against Canada's national team and U.S. college teams, and hosted the team during their stay. The relationships that the Fordjours developed at the time with the Ghana Soccer Association have since led to repeated trips across the Atlantic to try and develop an organizational structure for soccer – especially girls and women's soccer – in Ghana.

"In Ghana and even among the Ghanaian community in the U.S., sports are not seen as a priority," Fordjour says. "My father saw the way that playing soccer helped my siblings and I do better in school, and socially, and I think that really motivated him to change the way that Ghanaians think about sports, and to educate them about the positive benefits that soccer can have."

In the years since, both Kwadwo and Serwaah have traveled to Ghana several times, helping to teach tactics and strategy, and to work with local organizations to fund the development of the nation's youth coaches and players. Roughly half of the women's players are illiterate, and Fordjour hopes that linking soccer to education will help increase girls' participation in both athletics and academics.

Next summer, Serwaah plans to return to Ghana once again to play with the Fabulous Ladies and do her part to contribute to growing the game among Ghana's young women.

"Going there and having the chance to speak with people on the board for Ghana Soccer Association and stressing the importance of sports, and how people can benefit health-wise, keeping out of trouble, and keeping engaged in positive activities, has been a great experience," she says. "I'm already looking forward to going back."

Washington Youth Soccer

Washington Youth Soccer • 500 S. 336th St. Suite 100 • Federal Way, WA 98003
1-877-424-4318 (Toll Free) • (253) 4-SOCCER (476-2237)

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