The streets of most sub-Saharan African countries are always littered and buzzing with kids kicking the globular leather around with an aim of becoming the next Abedi Pele, Gearge Weah, JJ Okocha, Didier Drogba, Sheyi Adebayor Aristide Bance or a Mohammed Kallon.
African football greats like those mentioned above have different stories to tell of how they came out of a thorny street life to reach an enviable zenith of their chosen career.
Lapaz Newmarket is a busy suburb of Accra that has brought forth some national assets although not many of them.
A name that readily comes into mind is Daniel Agyei who kept Ghana’s post at the 2009 WAFU, CAF, FIFA U-20 Gglories in Nigeria, Rwanda and Egypt respectively.
Gilbert Fiamenyo, Karim Alhassan all formerly of Hearts of Oak, Seth Opare previously of Aduana FC and Asante Kotoko are products baked from the loamy soiled and “bottle stuffed” pitch of Cosmos School Park at Lapaz New Market.
Aside from Daniel Agyei, the biggest name to have come out of the highly delinquent community in the last two decades is Emmanuel Boateng – famed for scoring a hat-trick against Barcelona while playing for Levante in the Spanish La Liga.
Mohammed Karimu who cut his “footballing” teeth at Lapaz Newmarket has made sure Dubai club, Shabab Al Ahli is benefiting from the talent pot of third tier club, De Gunners FC where Emmanuel Boateng’s umbilical cord can be traced to. Mahmud Karimu has since signed a 1-year deal with Dubai based second tier side, Al Taawon FC.
The moderate yet commendable feat chalked by these sons of the golden land of Ghana encourages other youngsters to want to follow in their footsteps but the picture looks mixed and a bit different for Isaac Mante.
Mante who can be deployed at the back line and in midfield, plays for a third division club, Newcastle United at Fadama, a community associated with the national Chief Imam, Sheikh Usman Nuhu Sharubutu.
The young footballer must however sell coconut after training to be able to feed himself and to buy kits as well.
“As a footballer, you need something to help yourself, you go and train, play football and you might not get food to eat upon return,” Mante told Adamu Muftawu.
“So maybe you need a little job to support yourself that’s why I’m selling coconut to support myself.”
Mante makes about GHc150 or GHc200 [$11.55] or [$15.40] profit a day selling coconut and that might not be enough but cumulatively over weeks, is good to feed and acquire football kits.
With this means of survival at hand and languishing in third tier of the Ghana league, could the dream of rising to the top be crushing? Mante thinks otherwise.
“A day I can make close to GHc150 or GHc200 and it supports me enough, a big support.
“That is the money I’ve been using to buy football boots and others but right now you can’t depend on somebody.
“Everyday I motivate myself to do it for myself so that’s my motto, do it yourself.
“It [the football dream] is not dead because the dream is in me because I have the passion to play football.
“So the dream is never dead, it will come through by the grace of God.” The devout Christian said.
In a continent that is engulfed by seeming corruption and extortion, the part of football managers has become “important” as they somehow play a role in finding clubs for their players but Mante does not want to rely on his “pastor manager” who “does not know much about football.”
“My manager is a pastor and does not know much about football so it doesn’t look like he is managing me.
“So I’m selling the coconut to push myself and I know I will make it.
The simple things like food, kits and shelter are important in a sports man’s life and will Mante quit selling coconut which helps make ends meet to pursue his football dreams full time should a club come calling?
“I will stop selling, I have that passion, my dream is to be a great footballer in future so I will stop selling it [if the opportunity comes to play with a club].
“If they [club] will treat me well. If the club can support me with monthly stipends, I will be ok.
Mante has however never dreamt of playing for a club in Ghana but is open to lace his boots for a chance with any team in the two top tiers of the Ghana league.
“I’ve never dreamt of playing for a club in Ghana but right now if I get Kotoko or Hearts of Oak, any club in Ghana I will play.
“Any club that I can get a chance to play I will consider it.
“My family is depending on me, so I just need a good team so that I can look after my family so I’m interested in any club abroad and in Ghana.” Isaac Mante club concluded.