The Black Stars of Ghana have received tremendous support from the host nation throughout their 2010 FIFA World Cup™ campaign and were given a send off parade in Johannesburg yesterday for a final show of local admiration.
The parade saw the squad meeting and greeting crowds from Soweto to Melrose in Johannesburg - a sweep of Ghanaian flags, shirts, hats, scarves and a massive chorus of vuvuzelas following them wherever they went. The event concluded with a gathering at the Melrose Arch public-viewing area, where the fans could cheer the team before they departed for home.
“We wanted to host this event for two reasons,” said event organiser Yusuf Abramjee, Head of Corporate Affairs for Primedia. “They have done Africa proud, and after Friday's performance we can hold our heads high.”
After the parade through the city, the Ghanaian team took to the stage at the Melrose Arch centre as the thousands of fans clamoured to show their appreciation for what the team achieved.
“We want to say thank you for the support we have received,” said Sena Densua, the Ghanaian Minister of Sport. “We came to South Africa as representatives of Ghana, but we are happy to say we are going back as representatives of Africa.”
Densua also passed on the Ghanaian President, John Atta Mills', thank you message to the South African people for the incredible support the team received during the tournament. “We go back with fond memories of South Africa, we love you very much,” said Densua.
Then the moment that the crowd had been waiting for arrived as spokesperson for the team, John Pantsil, thanked the host nation for the backing they received. “We are so happy to be here. A big thank you for all the love and support you showed for us. We are proud of you.”
The fans were in high spirits despite the overcast day and the loss Ghana suffered against Uruguay in the Quarter Final on Friday. “It is absolutely incredible what Ghana achieved, of course we are disappointed, but despite this we are deeply proud of the progress they made in the first World Cup in Africa,” said Sambura Wa-Shika.
With a Black Stars banner, Nicole Brand, Candice Junkuhn and Danica Anderson have become converts to the beautiful game and the Ghanaian team in particular. “We all shared this together, their win and their loss, as Africans,” said Anderson. “We are so proud of them for proving the world wrong. We will support the Black Stars always.”
“I am really proud of what Ghana has achieved. They united Africa. Never before have I seen this and I hope it lasts long after the World Cup is over. Ghana has a victory in the hearts of African people,” said James Perkwa, a fan dressed in the red, yellow and green of Ghana.