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PAF’s trip to Ghana #4: Visiting MSJ Rangers in the Bono Region while promoting PAF

For three weeks, Pan-Africa Football is in Ghana to visit just about all corners of the country to experience its culture, and of course its football. We will be traveling back and forth from the capital Accra to other prominent locations across Ghana, including the Ashanti Region, Tamale, the Bono Region and the Cape Coast. Check out our fourth blog as PAF is hosted by Bono Region club MSJ Rangers and takes in an exhibition match between Rangers and another local club.

Locals take in the exhibition match between MSJ Rangers and Thoughts FC in Fiapre

After the time spent in Tamale, we crossed the Black Volta river again on a journey back into the southern half of Ghana and towards the western portion of the country. This part of the trip would take me to Sunyani, where the capital of the Bono Region would play host to the start of promotion for Pan-Africa Football following a spell that mostly included tourism activities. Upon arriving in Sunyani, I was greeted by the CEO of local club MSJ Rangers, Jeduah, and we established a plan for the week ahead.

Just before I had arrived, Rangers took part in the Division Two Middle League in a bid for promotion from Ghana’s third tier, falling short due to defeat in the single elimination format. While promotion is more of a possibility in the second tier Division One due to the league being divided into three regional divisions, the margin for error is razor thin in Division Two because it requires a flawless league run before succeeding in the very competitive Middle League where a single defeat can undo all the work from the regular season. Rangers had proven themselves in the Brong Ahafo regional league but were defeated by a club that ended up eventually winning promotion to Division One.

A young man in Fiapre prepares Attaya tea

The Cocoa House in Sunyani, a prominent area landmark that contains the headquarters for several businesses in the Bono Region

Popular Ghanaian music artist Stonebwoy pictured on the back of a vehicle. I was told repeatedly that you either support Stonebwoy or the country’s other popular artist, Shatta Wale, but NEVER both

Over the course of the week, I got to see the area, meet the members of the team, and interact with members of the media in Sunyani. To promote Pan-Africa Football, we arranged a couple of radio appearances with stations where the hosts asked me about my interest in Ghanaian football and discovered how I had been keeping up with the Ghana Premier League. They were certainly surprised and more than a bit amused that somebody like me knew about the teams and players in the league, but with the substantial help of local journalist Marshall I was able to express my admiration for the country’s top division and optimism that prosperous times were ahead for Ghanaian football.

Marshall and I make an appearance at radio station 95.5 FM JLife to promote the upcoming exhibition match

The radio host at 88.3 Potters FM in Sunyani holds up a Pan-Africa Football shirt after hosting us for a conversation to promote the match in Fiapre

MSJ Rangers train ahead of the exhibition match against Thoughts FC

Along with being interviewed, Marshall and I promoted an event to mark the collaboration between Rangers and Pan-Africa Football with an exhibition match between the club and another local side, Thoughts FC. Taking place on a pitch in nearby Fiapre, the match was hosted in conditions that were hot at first but cooled down over the course of the ninety minutes. A sizable crowd turned out with Marshall playing the role of announcer/MC to commentate on the match in Twi while periodically asking me and attending journalists for our perspective on the match. The environment remained festive throughout and was a fun event for all involved.

A goal in each half saw Thoughts FC take the lead before Rangers found an equalizer in the second half with an excellent cross from Osman Abdul Kadiri finding Samuel Acquah for a firm header into the back of the net. It was fitting that the two combined for the goal as they were among the standout players from the match and the training session I viewed. Captain Hakeem Musah also performed well in the midfield and goalkeeper Andy Oppong had some excellent moments. In a sign of the competitive nature of the match despite it being an exhibition, Oppong had to go to the hospital due to an injury suffered while performing some brave goalkeeping but was able to return to the facilities by the end of the match.

Jeduah, the CEO of MSJ Rangers, addresses the players after training

Young spectators take in the MSJ Rangers-Thoughts FC match

After a week of promoting and carrying out the exhibition match, I was entering the final stretch of the trip to Ghana with still a couple of destinations to check out. The upcoming final blog will wrap up trips to the center of the Ashanti Region, Kumasi, as well as the popular tourist destination of Cape Coast and the final days spent in the Greater Accra Region. For the Bono Region portion of the trip, I would like to sincerely thank MSJ Rangers, CEO Jeduah and Marshall for hosting me and putting together the exhibition match as well as the appearances on local radio stations. Without their contribution, none of this would have been possible.

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