It’s not often a former Premier League star can be found in rural Ghana, but last weekend one community hosted Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to celebrate the new global partnership between Chelsea FC and Plan International.
The former fans’ favourite and now Chelsea Club Ambassador was joined by Simon Taylor, head of the Chelsea Foundation as they received the warmest of welcomes from the chief and village elders. And once the formalities were out of the way, Carlo helped kick off a lively encounter between local girls and local boys.
With women dancing on the sidelines and the occasional goat or chicken interrupting play, it was a far cry from the pristine pitches of the Premier League. But the game was no less exciting - an action-packed first half saw a sending off and a missed penalty as the boys snuck into a 1-0 lead. But there was payback for the girls in the second half as they turned it around to secure an impressive 2-1 win.
Through football, we can spread messages of equality, respect and tolerance
Speaking after the game, Carlo said: “It’s great to have seen first-hand the work of Chelsea’s new global charity partner Plan International here in Ghana. In the village, Plan International has built water pumps, supports village savings and loans groups, provides school supplies and is currently refurbishing a school building where the match took place."
Gender equality through football
Football is a big part of Plan International’s work here, with girls teams set up by the organisation to help bring them together through sport. Through the team, girls can get involved in other activities and training to learn new skills. One star played said, “We’ve learnt that whatever boys can do, girls can do too!”
Plan International has set up 20 similar football clubs across Ghana, and thanks to Ghanaian’s love of football, the projects are helping girls to stay in education and build their confidence. A number of young Plan International players have even been picked to play for various girls’ national teams.
“What’s particularly inspiring is to see the reach and power of football to transform lives,” said Carlo. “Through football, we can spread messages of equality, respect and tolerance. That’s what this winning partnership with Plan International is about.”