OKBET Update How Ghana's women's beach volleyball team overcame all odds

OKBET Update: How Ghana’s women’s beach volleyball team overcame all odds

It has not been an easy road for the Ghana women’s beach volleyball team to get to the Commonwealth Games, where it will play its first match against Canada on Saturday. However, the team will finally get its chance to compete.

The atmosphere at the training center at the Laboma Beach Resort in Accra was devoid of enthusiasm just a few weeks before the team left for Birmingham. This lack of enthusiasm was compounded by the uncertainty of what might occur at the games as well as the limited support from the government.

The mood was one of despondency for a team that was getting ready for its first major event, and the primary reason for this was the fact that the government’s stipend for the camp had not yet arrived.

This was not the first time that the team had suffered a setback in terms of their finances. As a direct consequence of this, there was very little motivation, and the sweltering heat of summer only added to the problems.

According to what the members of the team told Al Jazeera, the “genuine love for the game” and the determination to make it against all odds were the reasons behind their perseverance during the three months in which they did not receive funding from the government.

Ghana, which holds the 104th spot on the international beach volleyball rankings, was placed in Pool A alongside Canada, which won the gold medal in the first-ever beach volleyball competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Kenya, and New Zealand.

After a grueling competition against the best teams on the continent, the group had successfully secured a spot for themselves at the event.

Juliana Otcherewa and Rashaka Katadat fought valiantly to secure the team’s spot at the event, defeating formidable competitors such as Nigeria, Seychelles, Kenya, and Mauritius along the way. Their efforts were successful.

Otcherewaa stated that the qualification was not an easy task, but that they were able to complete it with determination. “I told my partner that because we have made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point, we need to give it our all and do the best we can,”

Katadat was taken aback by the fact that she was even capable of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games.

Katadat told Al Jazeera that the team “didn’t expect to win this,” referring to the qualifying tournament.

“The primary reason for these feelings was that the preparations that were made for the qualifiers were terrible. Absolutely nothing was provided in the way of support or sponsors. Not even the cost of transportation, but we approached it with the mindset that we were doing it for ourselves, and as a result, we continued regardless of whether or not we received support.

Otcherewaa began her volleyball career in 2014, after graduating from senior high school in Ghana’s eastern region. She began training with the La Pioneers Volleyball Club, an indoor volleyball team based in Labadi, a coastal town in Accra, when she was 15 years old.

Her switch to beach volleyball happened by accident.

In 2014, she went to the beach to train by herself, and the national beach volleyball team happened to be there as well, piqued Otcherewaa’s interest.

She hung out at practice, gathering balls for the team. Later, the team’s head coach, Seidu Ajanako, approached her and asked if she wanted to try beach volleyball, which she eagerly accepted.

“They taught me the fundamentals of the game, and the rest is history,” she explained.

Katadat’s first love was indoor volleyball, which she discovered while in high school. Katadat grew up in Ejura, Ashanti Region, wanting to be a lawyer. Her parents were initially unsupportive of her involvement in volleyball as a high school student.

“My parents didn’t approve of me participating in sports. “They always told me that because I was a woman, I shouldn’t play sports because people would gossip,” Katadat told Al Jazeera.

However, a stellar performance while representing Highlanders Volley Club against TI Amass Senior High School drew the attention of the opponents, who offered her a scholarship to play for their team.

Her parents gradually warmed up to her enthusiasm for the sport.

“I started making a name for myself in Kumasi as the best volleyball player in the region, so my father just stopped and let me play.”

Katadat had to choose between a university sports scholarship and joining the army as an indoor volleyball player after high school.

She was at a fork in the road that would determine the course of her life.

“I eventually chose the army because the school is permanent, but the army is not.”

Meanwhile, Otcherewaa was drafted by the Ghana Police Service and now plays for the Police volleyball team in the Accra Volleyball League.

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