Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ghana's Blessed Rugby Club

Special Report by Benedict Chanakira for A Rugby Life

Blessed Rugby Club (Credit: 1tier Rugby
In the local town community of Cape Coast in Southern Ghana, Blessed Rugby Club founder and head coach, Michael Otoo,  conducts regular training sessions.  Established in April 2008, the club has survived many ups and downs to have gained themselves registration and affiliation with Central Rugby Association in Ghana.

"At Blessed Youth Rugby everyone is welcome!" said Michael "We train boys and girls ages 10 to 19 (U12 to U19) to play one of the toughest and most enjoyable sports in the world. Rugby has a place for all". 

Although rugby is popular around the world, it is new to many in Ghana.  "It looks like chaos to begin with, but after a few weeks of practice and a game or two, even beginners get it and have a lot of fun!"   
The club is composed largely of street children from the town and has very little or no material and financial resources to work with. Michael and his team balance focusing on training the young players and looking for any financial and material assistance to help grow their club.  It's a labor of love for Michael, who see's helping these kids get into rugby as a positive way to help educate them and prevent them getting involved in crime.  

"Boys and girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are welcome to come down and have training. We’re always looking for new players! We promote teamwork, tradition, heritage, camaraderie, and pride;  on and off the field. We believe Football (Soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen,” he added.

They practice everyday after school and during the holidays. Michael, who has been playing rugby since he was 15 years old, instills the values he learnt from the sport: solidarity, commitment, dedication, selflessness, humility, sharing, will to win, tolerance, respect, openness to others. These are the core foundations of the Blessed Rugby Club.

"The team battled through a tough 2012 with many players moving on, forcing the club to go on a recruitment drive which proved to be very successful. We had many new players coming on board, some of whom had never touched a rugby ball in their lives. But with a passion for the game, they proved to be just what the club needed," said Michael. "There was plenty of new enthusiasm and fresh blood around the club. The boy’s not only love the game of rugby but enjoy the friendships that are established through team-building trips, training nights and social functions. Our last season was a successful one for the Bloods – we all worked hard, proving how star we are as a team and we almost made it to the finals". 

Rugby is still an emerging sport in Ghana, and until now, it has barely penetrated Africa, other than in the far south of the continent.  Michael believes Ghana could have a great future in world rugby and be as great as South Africa one day. "That is far ahead in the future" he adds "but at the moment I appreciate that the Club is working towards establishing the beautiful game in Ghana. I believe the Ghanaian has the speed, strength and agility good attributes to pay, and hope that they can hone these attributes into quality players in the future" he concluded.

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