Much like many youngsters in Ghana, Eric Kwame Appiah’s childhood was steeped in playing football on the local muddy fields, where lush green pitches were a rarity. However, while many youngsters dreamt of emulating the feats of Abedi Pele, Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah, or Asamoah Gyan, Eric found his true calling elsewhere.
Drawing inspiration from his grandmother, who dedicated her life to providing hope for underprivileged children, Eric’s heart was always set on a mission of benevolence. “Growing up, I saw my grandmother provide for children who couldn’t afford food, schooling, and shelter,” he shared with GBC 24. “She opened the doors of education for many and brought them closer to Jesus Christ.”
Holding these childhood memories close to his heart, Eric embarked on a journey to the United States 18 years ago. There, he held onto his vision of creating a brighter future for Ghanaian children living in poverty.
Fast forward to the present, and Eric’s dream has come to fruition with the establishment of the Hope 4 Athletes Foundation. The three-year-old project, according to Eric, aims to continue offering hope and support to young Ghanaians in need. Speaking with Theophilus Sampah on GBC 24’s Sports Page program, he reinforced his commitment to the ongoing project.
“We are not planning to stop this initiative,” he asserted. “Our purpose is to bring about change, and this can only be achieved through constant effort. That’s why we purchased land to build our facilities and continue to provide opportunities for more kids.”
Eric’s passion for this cause is mirrored in the tangible strides the Hope 4 Athletes Foundation has made. Notable achievements include the acquisition of an 8.5-acre plot in Asikasu, near Asamankese in the Eastern Region, and the commencement of a boy’s dormitory on this land. Currently, over 20 boys benefit from eight-year scholarships, providing them access to junior high, senior high, and university education.
Furthermore, the foundation boasts a roster of skilled players, with Welfare Manager and Under 15 Coach David Dudor revealing the inclusion of a player, Tony Kyei, in the National U-15 team. Eric added, “We have talented players who can play in the national team. We have a player that was just called to the national U-15 team. We had one kid who was called to the national U-17 last year. We were able to send one of the kids to the USA in August 2021.”
The foundation thrives on three pathways, which leverage the different talents and capacities of the beneficiaries. Some may pursue a professional career in sports, while others might opt for education in the USA or learn a trade in Ghana. Eric also highlighted the importance of using sports as a tool to help the less privileged, discussing his interactions with the President of the Ghana Football Association, Mr. Kurt Okraku, towards achieving this goal.
Looking ahead, the Hope 4 Athletes Foundation plans to complete the construction of the boy’s dormitory and expand its scope by adding more under-age teams. Eric and David expressed their profound gratitude to their sponsors and donors in the USA for their unwavering support, with a message for their proteges: “Make this opportunity count. Our five pillars at the academy are God first, discipline, dedication, hard work, and make it count. Once we help the boys understand these five pillars, they will go places.”