Sunday, February 17, 2013

Becoming a Sports Girl

My school is famous for quite a few things; one of its main claims to fame is its superb athletics team. Here athletics is the sport we call track & field. Myself being a 3 season runner in high school, thought it was imperative that I join this team. I was never that fast, one of the key factors that lead me to focus on long distance running, and have no qualms about admitting I am not that good but I'm not sure I was prepared for the complete mortification that occurs every time I run on that track.
Coming to Ghana has one effect on a majority of females: you get fat. The carb-based diet, ginormous portions, and an "eat-all" cultural mandate, coupled with my lack of exercise has led to my ever increasing waist size and dissipating muscles. I was so set on running before I came but the idea of exercising on the streets in plain view of the annoyingly sexist, cat-calling men here, paired with my first experience running ending in two extremely bloody knees & laughing onlookers made me stop the practice.
Due to this disturbing change in my physic and physical ability, it is very laughable that the fat obruni wants to run. Yet, I have been waking up at 4:30 in the morning in order to be on time for before school training and attending the second 2 hour training period after school. I am no sprinter and am the first to admit that I am slow. Yet, as I completely mortify myself running my hardest about 100 meters behind everyone else, at the beginning putting up with the unhelpful catcalls and plain laughing in my face (there is no such thing as laughing behind ones back in Ghana, people are extremely upfront about it), I could not be happier, I am back in my element. Somehow, the team has not only accepted the fat obruni-ba (white lady) onto the team, they actually really like me. Through my daily mortification, I believe that they have come to respect me. Respect the fact that while I am no hardcore athlete, I'm trying. I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am to all the people on the team. All the made of 100% muscle African boys and girls who make succeeding on the track their life. I have no place in their ranks, they are all amazing national winners, yet they let me join and actually like me. This extremely kind and humbling gesture has melted my heart and filled me with such gratitude. I will be forever grateful to every member of the Amass athletic team. Being part of a team, exercising and sweating with others, definitely has to be one of my favorite things in the world and one I hoped to do as an exchange student.
These athletes are phenomenal, proving the stereotype true a hundred times over. Just as I, sadly, proved the stereotype true that white chicks can't run. I apologize to all those out there that defy that stereotype, I do not have the ability to refute it. These athletes train everyday 2 hours before school & 2 hours after it. They dedicate their lives to the sport. I am not exaggerating at all when I say running literally is their life. Many of them don't even come to classes and it is not like in the states where one has to be a student athlete, here there is the choice between being an athlete or student during the running season. All these runners dedicate their life to sport, and most of them say their goal is to get a scholarship to run in the US for a college team. Some of them tell me their goal in life is to run for America. There is such a love and desire for the United States here that permeates everywhere and in the world of sport, it is understandable. Here these kids are for sure talented enough to be completely boss at college athletics in America and hope to go to a place where they can continue to base their life and lively hood on being an athlete.
I'm by no means a professional athlete, I'm just an exchange student who wants to get back in shape and be on a team. Not only has the team welcomed me with undeserved open arms, they have let me come back to the sports dorm with them in order to use their bath house and change into my uniform before I go to classes, a kindness that is greatly appreciated.
The Baba Yara Sports Stadium which is across from my school and is the location of our daily practices. It is a pretty awesome location for practice, though I do really miss GNG's Libby Hill Trail System.

Isha, my "Sports Mother". Since day one, she has taken me under her wing and making sure I feel accepted . I will forever be grateful to her.

These are the two fastest girls on the team in their Anniversary wear. Watch out for these two in the Olympics, I believe that the girl on the right is the fastest girl in Ghana if the rumors I heard are true. Seeing her run, I don't doubt it. 

1 comment:

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