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440 Football Factories
Nana talks about how children devote their lives to soccer

CleAnn: So Nana, soccer is extremely important both our countries, but Ghana's team is very strong. Can you tell me a little bit about this?

Nana: Yeah, Ghana has a very strong soccer team. They're known as the Black Stars. Has so many stars. And it's actually ranked the 3rd in Africa at the moment. And ranked amongst the first 30 in the world now.

CleAnn: Oh, I don't think we're anywhere near there. I think we might probably be somewhere in the top 100. I don't know.

So you guys are called the Black Stars?

Nana: Yes.

CleAnn: In my country we call them the Soccer Warriors. Yes, we're very proud of our footballers.

Yes, but please continue.

Nana: Okay. The biggest game we have in Ghana now is soccer. Probably next might be boxing. But then the whole nation is all about soccer. And it's even important for families in the sense that families tend to push young kids into soccer academies which are all over the country now, and these young kids are really encouraged to actually play in the leagues, in the premier leagues, and further their playing career outside, but mostly the emphasis is on playing in foreign leagues, which they deem brings more money to the player himself and to the family the player comes from.

CleAnn: So recruiting young people is an important part of the soccer culture in Ghana.

Nana: Unfortunately, I would say yes.

CleAnn: It's quite the opposite in Trinidad. A lot of our very talented players are young people who show a lot of promise from high school days. They're just left to kind of slip through the cracks. They usually leave Trinidad and Tobago to study in foreign universities, most times on sports scholarships for soccer. And they leave and they sometimes stay in these foreign countries and they play in these foreign countries, and we lose them forever. So I think that this system in Ghana is actually a very good thing.

Nana: The reason why I say it's unfortunately true is, it has come to a point where people actually pay families just to take their young kids away. And this actually really comes under child slavery. 'Cause these kids they go away, and people don't hear from them probably until they are of age and they are playing in the big leagues. Then that's when families come forward and say, "yeah, this is my child, and this child was taken away from me for a long time." So it has come to a point where, people just come, they pick these kids out of school and no one knows, because they are playing good soccer in the basic schools, and no one knows what happens to them.

Again, and some of them even end up not actually meeting their potential, and end up doing some other stuff, end up in crime, end up doing some other stuff, and there's a lot of corruption in that. People actually go, there are families in Ghana which actually pay people, pay teams, just to sell their young kids to these foreign scouts. So it's really unfortunate. It's really unfortunate.