Afi Julienne Amezado clinched third at the just-ended Ghana Open Golf Championship 2022 at the Damang Golf Course in the Western region of Ghana on November 6, 2022. She also won the prize of “Ladies Closest to the Pin” in the Cal Bank Open Championship 2022 at the Achimota Golf Course on November 19, 2022.
All these achievements did not come on a silver platter, neither were they a result of one day’s work by the Fafali Organization and Afi Julienne Amezado.
According to the briefing paper developed by UNICEF and the Social Policy Research Institute, in collaboration with the National Development Planning Commission, “children have experienced reduced access to essential goods and services, increased poverty, food insecurities and exposure to violence, abuse, and exploitation, as well as decline in physical and mental health. In the long term, these might lead to adverse effects on children’s health, nutrition and learning outcomes, psychosocial well-being, and on the ability of households to recover. Especially among vulnerable households and children, these factors risk exacerbating existing deprivations and inequities”.
COVID-19 was a period where the world suffered and as such, the most vulnerable of all, women and children, were the most affected. During this period, there were no activities ongoing as cases were reported each passing day.
In Ghana, for instance, we recorded our first case on March 12, 2020 and we have gone on to record over 170,894 cases. Government put in place containing measures. For instance, the restriction of all air travel to Ghana, suspension of social gatherings, school closure, mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers, closure of all borders to human traffic, lockdown of major cities, the mandatory wearing of a mask, among others.
These restrictions ensured that there was little to nothing going on in the country. Children during this period had nothing going on for them as they had to stay indoors and be bored all day, with the cycle repeating itself.
The Kissehman Community was not exempted from the trials Covid-19 came with. The children were left dejected with nothing to turn to.
As the go-to organization in all of Okaikwei North, the then Ngorli Organization now Fafali Organization through its sports program, began the Golf & Goal project for children in the Anunmle Electoral Areas of Kissehman, Anunmle, Christian Village, Pillar 2, amongst others.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children and adolescents is multifaceted and substantial. Survey studies regarding child and adolescent mental health amid COVID-19 by Monique Theberath (2022) and her team, indicated that anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, and tension were the most observed symptoms.
Children staying at home and the re-prioritization of support services in key sectors have also compounded the various risks children face in critical periods of their development.
The government of Ghana at some point in time opened the gates for sporting activities with no contact like; tennis, golf, etc. to begin operations as a way to bring the economy back to its normal state.
Golf & Goal project
The Golf and Goal project started with the goal of keeping children active during the depressing moments of the Covid-19 pandemic and has eventually evolved into empowering the youth of Africa with education, training, and character – enabling them to act upon their future and enriching their local communities and Africa as a whole.
When the Golf & Goal project began, 45 children immediately signed up to play. The programme has since impacted over 200 children. These children are happy just be out there with their friends and engage in something that would contribute to their development.
How it all began
When the Fafali Organization realized it had to respond to the growing issues of lack of activities for children in the Anunmle Electoral Area, the Founder, Raymond Senyo Amezado, and the CEO, Senyo Sosu, met with some individuals at the Achimota Golf Course. They served as coaches and caddies to professional golfers to begin a project on their own which would go a long way to impact the underserved children in the Anunmle Electoral Area. The Golf training takes place from Monday-Friday 4 pm-5:30 pm.
Coaches David Ayitey, John Quarshie, Emmanuel Yeboah, and Godfred became the pioneers of the Fafali Golf & Goal project and have ever since helped train kids between the ages of 5-16 years.
The Fafali Organization began this project with two sets of golf bags consisting of clubs to be used by 45 children. As weeks and months passed by, the coaches acquired more golf bags and clubs for the children.
For a sustainable Golf & Goal project, every child in the project had to be enrolled in school to be able to participate in the Golf Academy. Children who had challenges at school were going to be given special attention under the ‘Goal’ function of the project.
The Golf & Goal project has not been a free-flowing project without any struggles. The project has on countless occasions gone through adversities that have seen it on the verge of collapsing.
The common struggle this project has faced is the lack of opportunities for these young golfers. Golf has been labeled as the rich man’s sport hence, it has remained one of the least popular sports in Ghana. The opportunities available are for the rich folks, and this robs kids in our project the wrong way. We believe opportunities should be available to all young golfers in the country provided they are up to the task.
Parents of these children have also shown lack of understanding as to why their children should be in the Golf & Goal project. Parents have on several occasions pulled their children out of the project so they can go on the streets to sell and make some money for the home. These children eventually miss out on daily training sessions which affects their progress. They begin to get frustrated when they miss out on the little opportunities available to represent their community and they finally drop out.
One core mandate underpinning the Golf & Goal project is to see all the children in school and be able to help them when they struggle. But some children have dropped out of school either because they are academically struggling and are being bullied by their colleagues. Some others just do not have the means to continue. This goes against the standing order of the project hence; these kids are unable to continue playing golf. As a way to not let go of this talent, the organization took the step of reaching out to these kids to help solve any issues bothering them. And this has also proved futile as the children no longer want to be in the classroom.
The Golf & Goal project has chalked enough achievements since its 2 years of inception. The achievements come in the form of attaining the ultimate goals of the project as well as empowering young females in the Anunmle Electoral Area.
The ultimate goal of the Golf & Goal project was to give these children some sense of purpose during the period of COVID. As the world is a year removed from COVID, we realized that these children now have an active programme to turn their attention to once school closes.
The Golf & Goal project has also ensured that all children in the programme are enrolled in school. To keep playing golf, you must stay in school. There is supervision by the Fafali Organization to see if the children are improving their grades with each passing academic year.
One significant goal of the organization is to empower young women in the community who will eventually help breach the gender gap in our society. As such, the Golf & Goal project currently has a population size of 56, out of which 41 are females. This has produced the best female junior golfer in Ghana, Afi Julienne Amezado. She was also invited to the World Open Championship in Scotland by the R & A.
Though not an ultimate goal, the Golf & Goal project has produced champions in the juniors’ level at the Ghana Open Championship, Accra Open Championship, Birthday tournaments, among others.
The Golf & Goal project has received some partnerships secured by the organization in its few years of operation. Notable among these partnerships are The Golf Trust Partnership and KitAid.
The Golf Trust was set up to bring people together through golf. It has brought the benefits of golf to thousands of people and helped to make golf an accessible sport for all. It has supported the Golf & Goal project with golf equipment like bags, clubs, and golf balls.
KitAid is a charity that recycles your once-loved football kit and distributes to underprivileged children and adults in some of the world’s poorest countries. KitAid has supported the Golf & Goal project with golf attires like sneakers, caps, and shirts for these young golfers.
The Fafali Organization currently runs the Ball & Brain, and Fit for Fun projects under the Sports programme. Additionally, the organization has projects running for environment and sanitation, entrepreneurship, gender equality, and education.