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The Red Bull Soccer Academy in Ghana is a hotbed of up-and-coming African soccer talent. Here are some crucial pieces of information about the academy, its home base Ghana and some illustrious footballers from the country.

The Republic of Ghana is located in West Africa…

… and it has borders with the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north and Togo in the east. The Red Bull Soccer Academy is located in the Volta region in the eastern part of Ghana. The training grounds are very close to the world’s largest artificial reservoir, Lake Volta. Ghanaian capital Accra is a couple of hours’ drive away to the south.

The Ghana academy hopefuls are in good company…

… as the top leagues in the world are brimming with Ghanaian talent. Ghana can boast now-retired star Samuel Kuffour, winner of the Champions League with German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, Kevin-Prince Boateng of Italian Serie A outfit AC Milan, the English Premier League’s current Chelsea legend Michael Essien, Fulham’s John Pantsil, Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingson and no fewer than three players signed to another Premier League club, Sunderland – John Mensah, Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari.

Their national team are pretty handy as well…

… reaching the last eight of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa last year after qualifying for the tournament with a 100 per cent win record. Their hopes of becoming the first African team to lift the trophy were dashed, however, by a deliberate handball on the goal line from Uruguay’s Luis Suarez in the closing stages that denied Ghana a certain goal with time up on the clock. Asamoah Gyan failed to score the resulting penalty kick that would have sealed the victory in the very last second of extra time and the game ended in a 1–1 draw. Ironically, Gyan then scored the very first spot-kick in the subsequent penalty shootout, but Ghana still lost it 4–2 to the Uruguayans. More recently, Ghana were involved in a surprisingly entertaining and keenly contested friendly match with England at Wembley Stadium in London which ended 1–1. Asamoah Gyan was once again on-hand to score Ghana’s equaliser.

The Red Bull Ghana team are getting a real lesson in football…

… and their most recent game was a proper relegation ‘six-pointer’, ie the winner of the game would put real distance between themselves and the drop from Division One to Division Two. Opponents Rehoboth FC were just one point below Red Bull Ghana and in the relegation zone going into the game, but fortunately a goal from the Red Bulls’ Augustine Okrah meant that they jumped four points clear by beating their nearest rivals, with just one match to go next weekend before the end of the league season, and to almost-certain Division One safety!

And they’ve got big names looking out for them…

…as a top-notch coaching team is also being put in place to ensure the quality of Red Bull Ghana’s soccer. No less than Andre van der Ley, former scout with the Dutch national team, will become Red Bull’s head scout in West Africa from next month.

But the Academy isn’t just about soccer…

… the students also have to do schoolwork there. In fact, this week is exam time for the boys studying to gain their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), the standard in West Africa. “They were always on time and prepared for their lectures,” says headmistress Julia Fattinger about the lead-up to the exams. “Besides [working hard on] the pitch, the boys are also trying very hard in school.”

And the Academy isn’t just about its students…

… it’s about the whole community. The Academy provides support and equipment for the Alkalo Stars, the soccer team from the neighbouring village of Fievie. And away from soccer, the Academy extended their fresh water pipeline from the Volta so that local villagers could share their water supply. Five times as much water is now taken from the pipeline by local people as by the Academy itself…

Red Bull Ghana have a new website, redbullghana.com!


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