Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hearts of Oak

A few weeks ago, I had the unexpected pleasure of catching a mid-week Glo Premier League match at the Ohene Djan Stadium between Hearts of Oak and Sekondi Eleven Wise. Football at the highest level in Ghana appears to be in a bit of disarray (matches were once again recently suspended) and, for the match I attended, there were only a few hundred people in a gorgeous stadium that sits tens of thousands.

The unexpectedly small number of folks in the stands did little to diminish the atmosphere. The level of football played was far beyond what I expected. The match ended in a 2-2 tie that was a further minor setback to the Hearts of Oak's juggernaut season. Both sides featured players with impressive skill sets. Absent any information regarding the players on the pitch, I had no idea of who was actually doing what, but it is not difficult to believe the premise of many news items on Ghanaian news sites that breathlessly discuss the European trials and opportunities of many of the league's young stars.

The lack of local appreciation for the nation's club league is disheartening and the difficult task faced by league promoters was made clear by the greater attention paid to Wayne Rooney broadcast on the stadium's big screen during halftime, as a live feed from the midweek EPL match was broadcast during the break than the actual game.

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