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GFA Foundation-Ghana Prisons Project launched in Accra

By Vincent Ashitey
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The GFA Foundation-Ghana Prisons project, an initiative that seeks to use the power of football to promote the wellbeing, welfare, reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates of Ghana's prisons into society, was launched in Accra on Friday, May 24, 2024.

At a short but impressive ceremony held at the Senior Boys Correctional Centre (Borstal Institute) for Juveniles, GFA President Kurt Edwin Simeon-Okraku delivered love and hope to the young souls and Prison officers at the Centre.

The first phase of the partnership will see the GFA Foundation facilitating coaching, refereeing and mentorship training programmes for inmates and officers in six (6) prison facilities.

The Senior Correctional Centre (Borstal), Akuse Male Prison, Winneba Local Prison, Nsawam Medium Male Prison, Sunyani Central Male Prison and Sunyani Central Female Prison will benefit from the historic initiative which also includes the distribution of football logistics funded by the GFA Foundation.

President Simeon-Okraku underlined the three major pillars of focus on the far-reaching partnership between the two organisations.

"The first pillar is in the form of the football items and logistics which we will shortly unveil and present to the prison facilities. The two other equally important pillars are coaching, refereeing and mentorship training programmes for inmates and officers as well as advocacy workshops to sensitize the public and the citizenry on the negative impact of discrimination and stigmatization of prisons and prisoners," President Simeon-Okraku said

"Emulating one of the principles of football where you lose a match and you try another day, we believe in giving these inmates a second chance to put their lives back on track."

"I would like to urge all inmates in beneficiary prison facilities to take full advantage of this initiative to improve their wellbeing, speed up their reformation process and make their reintegration into society a smooth and permanent one so they do not become repeat offenders and go back to prison." he advised.

The President thanked the Director-General and the Ghana Prisons Service for the collaboration which seeks for the greater good of officers and particularly inmates.

"I want to thank the Director-General and the Ghana Prisons Service once again for agreeing to partner us to undertake what we consider to be an important national duty and service to humanity." he concluded.

While expressing gratitude to the Ghana Football Association, the Director-General of Prisons, Isaac Kofi Egyir, commended the sterling leadership of President Simeon-Okraku for the visionary initiative, which aims to enhance the well-being of both officers and inmates.

"This initiative represents a new chapter for the Ghana Football Association and Prisons Service. It bring a message of optimism to those who often feel despair and isolated. Through this collaboration, the GFA Foundation - Ghana Prisons Project will offer training courses in coaching, match officiating (refereeing), mentorship and opportunities for inmates to engage in football activities organised by the GFA," he said

"The inclusion of football in our correctional programmes is designed to enhance the overall effectiveness of inmates' rehabilitation. The sport promotes fitness, reduces stress, improves mental health, instills discipline, encourages teamwork and supports social reintegration. These programmes will serve as a cornerstone for the successful reintegration of prisoners, equipping them with essential skills and confidence for the future."

"On behalf of the Ghana Prisons Service, I extend our deepest gratitude to the leadership of the GFA for their vision and dedication to corporate social responsibility. This project, which includes supplying football equipment and logistics to various prisons nationwide, is poised to make a significant impact on the lives of those in our custody."

The GFA Foundation presented logistics such as Footballs, Jerseys, Yellow Cards, Red Cards, Whistles and Movable Small Goalposts, amongst others, to the Ghana Prisons Service.

The colorful event was attended by high ranking officials of the Ghana Football Association and the Ghana Prisons Service in an ebullient engagement at the Senior Boys Correctional Centre.

Led by President Simeon-Okraku, the GFA team also included top management members such as the Deputy General Secretary in charge of Administration, Ama Brobey-Williams, GFA Foundation Director, Malcolm Frazier Appeadu, Director of Marketing, Jamil Maraby, Head of Public Relations and Strategy, Neil Armstrong-Mortgabe, and Technical Director Professor Joseph Kwame Mintah.

In a charity football match, the Prison Women's Team beat the GFA Women's team 5-0. The men's teams of the GFA and Prisons Service also locked horns in a second match, settling for a goalless drawn game. Both matches were played at the Astro turf at the correctional centre.

This project is the first of its kind to be undertaken by a Football Association globally with previous ones having been undertaken by football clubs and other Non-Governmental Organizations [NGOs] in other parts of the world.