By Chandan Kumar
Sam Georgina, 40, is a single mother of two boys working in state prison service, but being the captain of the country’s hockey team is something that primarily makes her a popular figure in Ghana. Georgina has spent nearly 16 years with the national team and is currently seen in Delhi leading the side in the ongoing Hero Hockey World League round 2. “I perform general duties in the prison , which essentially includes taking care of the inmates” says Georgina.
Georgina’s first love was basketball though, but a short stint at a hockey game motivated her to pick up a hockey stick instead. “I used to play basketball and when I first saw the game (hockey), I said wow lets give it a try,” says Sam recalling her shift to hockey from Basketball at the age of 20. “I was about to write my ordinary level certificate examination when I started playing hockey,” she adds.
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Since then hockey became everything for her and her commitment to the game got her selected in the National squad she now leads. Undoubtedly, it has been Georgina’s hard work and her commitment that has led her to remain in the squad for nearly 16 years. “When I first saw the game, I told myself to do it (play and perform) to the highest,” says Georgina, speaking about her motivation which has sustained her so far in the sport.
A strong drive is required to continue playing hockey in a country like Ghana especially when there is absolutely no support from the government, either in the form of money or infrastructure. “We get no funding from the government, we solely rely on the sponsors for the money,” Georgina explains.
Apart from money, infrastructure is another big problem. “We just have one stadium in Accra, so we are forced to practice in sandy parks, which makes the training more difficult. Another thing that adds to our woes while shifting pitches is the speed of the ball, while it comes quickly on turf, it’s speed decreases on sand,” she adds.
The stadium in Accra was constructed recently in 2009 when Ghana hosted the Cup of Nations hockey tournament. “It was like a flash and made hockey popular in Ghana,”says Georgina. This popularity urged more people to take up hockey professionally but a job in the services remains the main attraction. Currently 15 out of the 18 members of the women hockey squad are employed in the services. “Our jobs allow us to continue playing even after all the problems,” says Georgina.
Having seen her shouldering the responsibility almost single-handedly over the years, Georgina is also a source of motivation for most of the younger memebers of the team. “She is very disciplined and dedicated and that is what we try to learn from her,” says Opoku Elizabeth, one of the younger members of the team. Georgina, being a penalty corner specialist, Opoku feels the team will miss her during such situations. “She is the one who takes penalty corners, for the team so when she leaves it would be difficult to find someone for her position”.
Now that Georgina has made up her mind to finally hang her boots by the end of this year, she would still want to remain associated with the sport. “After retiring, I’ll do something in hockey but I don’t know yet.” Georgina says.
(Chandan is a student of EXIMS)