This article from today's ESPN.com Outside the Lines series really touched me.
It's about the Right to Dream football academy, which helps 'talented underprivileged African children play sport, obtain a first class education and develop key lifeskills to help them to achieve a better quality of life.'
The story takes place in Ghana and follows the scouts as they try to fill positions at the academy.
It's a gripping tale of poverty, helplessness and ultimately hope that will thoroughly move you.
Many families in Ghana see football as their only escape from the gripping poverty that overwhelms their daily lives. The kids in this story fight for their hope. Ultimately, only a few get to see their dreams fulfilled.
Please take the time to read this story.
For those of you in the States, the story appears on their Outside the Lines program today at 3pm.
Here is the beginning of the article. For the rest, please click here.
On the most important day of his life, Shadrak Kwabena wakes up hungry. He is 9 years old, his pencil legs covered in knee-high, hand-me-down yellow socks. This is the moment his mother imagined when she took him to the coach three years ago with a request: Please give my son a future.
He makes his way toward the mosque for morning prayer, the dirt streets pocked with rock and rubble. Around town, other boys slip into the predawn darkness. The ones who own soccer cleats wear them; parents save for months to afford the $12 shoes. Many come barefoot. Word has spread: A scout is in Tamale, with strange words and customs, who possesses the mystical power to change a person's destiny forever.
The coach, Sharhabib Mumuni, is at the mosque waiting on Shadrak and the rest of the Great Eagles. Mumuni has procured the best breakfast he can. Last year, the boys started game days with hearty porridge. Today, it's bread and tea.
Once they've prayed and eaten, the boys walk toward the field, which is ringed in barbed wire and, thanks to last night's monsoon, covered in large patches of standing water. Andy Farrant, a 23-year-old from England, surveys the damage. He hardly looks mystic. More like a first-year law student, with a lean build, a friendly, boyish face and a mother who worries about him in Africa, so far away from home. This is his show -- he's head scout, a volunteer, for the Right to Dream Academy. He will decide which boys come to the capital city of Accra and which stay behind. Playing God makes him uncomfortable. He's not blind. He sees the desperation. This is one of the poorest places in the world. He sees that the 20 coaches the academy invited have shown up with more than the allotted 10 players each -- one coach, who was not invited, has brought his team anyway. "Those boys who come from the North," Farrant says, "you're their chance in life."