***Note: This was written on the night of the game. My apologies for the delay in posting.
Tonight was the USA vs. Ghana World Cup Game. After meeting up with friends at a local bar, we made our way to a large field where a group had put together a makeshift screen and projector to show the game. We were a motley crew, as you might say, of 3 Ghanaians, 2 Canadians, 2 Americans, and a Brit. When we arrived at the field, there was a large group already gathered around the screen. We settled in on the grass to watch the game.
As the game started, the energy was electric. I personally, coming from a culture where football – soccer – isn’t the “main” sport, have never seen a crowd go so nuts over soccer. When the Ghanaian team came on the screen, the whole crown hollered and cheered. With the singing of the national anthem, the crowd cheered and hooted the anthem as much as they sang it. When the ball hit the field, you really could feel the anticipation.
The USA scored the first goal, which only served to agitate the crowd more. Whenever Ghana even came close to the USA net, the crowd would go insane. A few times I did a double take because I was sure Ghana must have scored proportional to the noise of the crowd.
But then Ghana did score, and the crowd literally went wild. Everyone jumped up, rushed to the screen, and ran around. They all yelled and screamed and threw their hands in the air. Beyond simple joy over the goal, pride for their team, for their country real shone in the movement of every spectator.
When the USA scored the winning goal, the crowd was obviously dejected, and yet they stayed in good spirits. I feel like Ghanaians really do understand the principle of fair play. It was a good game: it was close and both teams played well. No one shouted about bad refs. No one shouted at the US observers. People even stayed with each other to keep watching other TV shows around the big screen.
For Ghanaians, football is more about the team. Football is about the game and the communities it creates. In the end, it mattered who won, but only because it meant whether or not Ghanaians would come together to cheer for their nation. No matter what, Ghanaians love the sport. At the end of the day, that is enough for them.