JOK gives back with youth football camps in Ghana
BEREA, Ohio — Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah wasn’t always passionate about football. In fact, at one point, he didn’t want to play. This is obviously no longer the case and before returning to Berea for off-season training, he took advantage of this free time to pass on his love of the game to the next generation.
Owusu-Koramoah’s brother is the one who instilled this love of the game in him.
“My experience just started in the United States. My brother wanted me to play. I didn’t necessarily want to play,” laughed Owusu-Koramoah. “He stuck the helmet on me. I didn’t necessarily want to put the helmet on and that was a bit of a problem.”
Once this helmet has been put on (well, maybe not immediately after it continued), his feelings for football changed.
“Over time you kind of develop a love for the game, a love for the process, a love for the people, the brotherhood, the unity,” he said. “I’m all about principles. So that’s something football teaches you if you use it and do it the right way.”
Using these principles as a guide, Owusu-Korahmoah takes a very holistic approach to everything in his life, from the food he eats to how he trains and everything in between – and this approach has been reflected in two youth soccer camps he has booked. Ghana this off-season.
It was a busy spring for the linebacker who hosted not one but two youth camps, one in Accra, Ghana and one in Takoradi, Ghana. The first camp in Takoradi focused on the life principles that Owusu-Koramoah values and how they can translate and be channeled through football.
“We talked a lot about body, mind, spirit, connection, giving them meditation, giving them alkaline food, refreshments,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “Teaching health, teaching football and how to be self-controlled, disciplined, consistent. So we talked a lot about the basic principles of living through this tool of football.”
Shortly after the first camp, on the coast in Accra, Owusu-Koramoah hosted another two-day camp in partnership with NFL Africa. This camp was more focused on developing soccer skills, but Owusu-Koramoah put their holistic twist on it.
“The second was with NFL Africa, and we focused a lot on the combined storyline, which was evaluating them for new opportunities, also teaching them and giving them exposure to the game,” he said. “We had a lot of people from Liberia, a lot of people from South Africa, Nigeria, of course, floods in Nigeria everywhere. So things are happening in Africa and everyone came to Ghana, which is my house, so it was a great experience.”
Bringing the youth together was something Owusu-Koramoah was happy to be able to facilitate. But it was more than that. The very introspective linebacker saw the camps as a way for him to come away with lessons and growth as well.
These lessons came during a Q&A portion of the camps. There was one question in particular that Owusu-Koramoah remembers well.
“We had a Q&A with young kids and it was phenomenal. One kid said, ‘Hey, do I want to be like you?’ And I was like, ‘Why do you want to be like me?’ He was like, ‘Uh…’,” Owusu-Koramoah recalled.
He then used that child’s question to convey a lesson he felt was very important to share.
“At that time, I was telling them, I told them, ‘You don’t necessarily want to be like me because I can only be me. I have my own experiences. I have my own way of life. I see the world a certain way.’ I said, “I would much rather if you maybe wanted to look like what I represent you want,” Owusu-Koramoah shared. “So you want to represent the principle of who I am, not necessarily me.'”
Owusu-Koramoah’s message to children was strong, but their impact on him was just as powerful, he said.
“It was a good experience to be able to answer those questions and not just answer questions but also get questions. I was asking them questions as well,” he said. “Youth is the next step, so that was something that was really deep for me.”
With camp participants from all over West Africa, Owusu-Koramoah has left her mark on a vast region beyond her home. But having children and their families from all over, bringing their unique cultures, life experiences, outlooks on life and philosophies is something that has left a mark on Owusu-Koramoah itself.
“If I had to list one thing I learned there it was definitely the art of unity and how people from different backgrounds could really come together, at least for one aspect, one event. . And it was a good thing to see,” he said.
Camryn Justice is a reporter for News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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