ACCRA, GHANA — Ghana was stunned last year by a corruption scandal in which football referees were found to be accepting bribes to influence the outcomes of games.
But while the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has struggled to clean up the sport, and some football clubs closed their doors, the Shooting Stars Football Club has continued to train, house and support young players.
"From our very small way, we are trying to make sure football is still being played," said Isaac Ansah, co-founder of the Shooting Stars. "In the last two years, most clubs in Ghana have shut shop. Why? Because you can't keep on spending money on something that isn't being supported or running, so footballers are sitting at home. What are they doing if they sit at home? They will get into trouble and are going to be on the streets."
The bribery scandal spurred many Ghanaian football players to take other jobs or leave the country for other clubs.
But with donations from the founders' friends and families and some businesses, the Shooting Stars were able to help footballers keep training in Ghana.
The team has helped the young men do well in exhibition games in Europe, even though many are from less privileged backgrounds with far fewer resources than their European counterparts.
Some European clubs have even signed Shooting Stars' footballers.
Ghanaian attorney Amanda Clinton, who plays an active role in the country's football scene, says it is important to make sure all talented players, regardless of their background, have a good shot at success in the game.
"Football has been a really good leveler globally," she said. "It's like the gladiators of our time — it has been a very good leveler for disadvantaged people where it makes a difference."