9 Nov 2012

Widnes Vikings’ development officer Ben Morris recently completed a successful week-long visit to Ghana, through the Super League club’s Valhalla Foundation.

"As in a large number of African countries, there are high levels of poverty and infant mortality,” explained Morris. “In Ghana, 57 out of 1000 children die. Ghana itself played a part in the history of one of mankind's darkest periods; the slave trade and the South Coast is littered with slave castles where the native people were sold and shipped off to the Americas to work as slaves in plantations. An hour's drive out of Accra is the village of Bueko where we had been invited to by the Anglican Diocese of Ghana as part of developing outreach programme.”

Morris met up with Ghana Rugby League’s Development Manager Sylvester Wellington, who is busy organising a large-scale technical course in Accra, in partnership with University of Ghana and the Ghana Education Service, the government’s schools administration.

Wellington’s effect was clear: "It was great to meet the pioneer who is constantly planting new seeds and preaching the gospel of rugby league in a brand new area. He contributed to the session during the day with an instantaneous, positive effect. Although he didn't speak the local dialect of the Villagers from Bueko, there was more understanding between speaking the Gha language. This had an immediate impact by adding fluidity to the activities.

"After a reflection period of my trip, it is easy to focus on what we did in Ghana, but less obvious is the impact the people and children have had on my life. I'm taken aback by the simplicity of their lifestyles in Ghana as they are not possession-driven people cluttered with advertising propaganda, and the Media telling them how they should and shouldn't live their lives. In the UK, one of the RFL's priorities is to build community cohesion through bringing people together; Rugby League may be new to Ghana, but the overwhelming sense of community is admirable. Both individually and as a group, we always felt welcomed everywhere we went. It has certainly made a lasting impression on me!"