For about four minutes in Kasoa, Ghana, cheers rained down from the heavens. Joy echoed from every corner of the village. Then, silence.
The Ghana national team had been down to the United States 1-0 from the opening minute of its World Cup match Monday. Ghana tied it in the 82nd minute, only to have the U.S. score a few minutes later.
After spending two weeks last month in Ghana, friends I stayed in touch with spoke of the screams from nearby houses when Andrew Ayew scored the tying goal. Then, when the Americans yanked the lead back, came the sadness.
Foster Annan, a teacher I met, messaged me about how quiet it was on his dirt road that winds through Kasoa.
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Ghanaians live and breathe with their national team. Many who live in the West African country lack things we take for granted — food, electricity, running water. Soccer provides a sliver of optimism for a struggling, but enthusiastic, population.
Whenever someone heard I was American, I was bombarded.
“June 16! Be ready,” they shouted, good-naturedly. “Oh, you will lose, you will lose!”
I taught English to first- through third-graders while in Kasoa. Some words — football, World Cup, America — shined through the language barrier. All those words create a sense of hope for Ghanaians young and old, hope often absent in their lives.
Some kids I taught may not have had shoes, but they sure knew how important feet were to Ghana’s national identity. A country with a struggling economy, limited infrastructure and massive poverty could take pride that their countrymen’s feet have taken down the Americans in the previous two World Cups.
Not this time. In the 86th minute Monday, the Ghanaians’ hopes were dashed by a U.S. goal.
My thoughts flashed to the man I met at a Ghanaian art market selling woodwork to make a couple of dollars a day. Instead of shoes, he wore a grin when he learned I was American.
Ghana will beat the U.S. by three goals, he said.
“The Americans will not score!” he declared.
His eyes lit up when he began talking about his national team. Win or lose, for him and his fellow Ghanaians, the World Cup is the chance to forget about their own troubles for a little while.
Ashley Scoby: 206-464-2723