Known for his sizzling pace and consistent threat to score, Chicago Fire forward David Accam has made his presence felt on the field in each stop of his professional playing career. But along the way, Chicago's Ghanaian Designated Player also has developed a desire to make an equal impact off the pitch, and recently had the chance to do just that in the place where it all began for him.
While the Fire were on a week-long break that coincided with MLS’ pause for Copa America Centenario, Accam was back in Ghana helping unveil a brand new community pitch to benefit the Right to Dream Soccer School in Kumasi.
“After my graduation from Right to Dream, I decided to give back to the community, to Ghana as a whole,” he said. “I asked Right to Dream what was the best possible way I could help to give back to the community and they told me about the project they were doing.”
Known as the David Accam Community Pitch, the project was the result of a partnership between Accam, African oil company Tullow Oil, and the ENAS Hybrid School, which offers students both local and international education in Kumasi. The pitch will be a base for Right to Dream activities, but will also serve as a gathering place for the entire local community to come together and expand their soccer horizons.
“In the northern part of Ghana, this is the first artificial pitch they have, so it’s kind of like a tourist attraction for most of the people in that place,” Accam said. “Everyone just goes there and tries to look at the pitch because some of them have never seen this kind of pitch before so they just go there to look at the pitch. It’s good. It’s a good feeling.”
Kumasi, a city four hours northwest of Accam’s native city of Accra and the second-largest in Ghana, is home to an extension of the Right to Dream Academy that Accam himself graduated from in 2008.
“Kumasi is one of the football capitals of of Ghana, a big football city,” Robin Bourne-Taylor, Managing Director of Right to Dream, said. “It worked really well there, and David has been very keen and eager to give back. It’s one of the pillars of what our organization does. A lot of our education is steered towards giving back.”
The academy, founded in 1999, serves to help discover and develop strong character both on-and-off the soccer field in Ghana by providing opportunities to young people that may not otherwise receive them. After providing Accam with a launching point into his career as a professional footballer, the now 25-year-old has made it a point to stay active and involved with Right to Dream throughout his stints in England, Sweden, and now Chicago.
“I stay in contact with them every day,” Accam said. “I mentor some of their kids. Every time I go back home I go to the academy. I talk to the kids. I think most of them want to be like me, to get to the level I’m at now, so I try to share my experience in my time with them.”
The opening of the pitch marked the completion of a project that Accam has been working on during most of his time with the Fire, and the opening ceremonies that took place in Kumasi served as its rewarding conclusion.
“It took about a year from when we decided to do it,” he said. “It was great. We had some important dignitaries at the event. For me, one of it the greatest feelings in my life was doing this, giving back to the community and helping young kids. That feeling is unreal. I’ve never felt that way before.”
Accam continues to take his impact both on-and-off the field to new heights in 2016, and -- as in Chicago -- his presence has been a welcome one to Ghana’s next generation of soccer players.
“We’re really glad he could come over and be a part of it,” Bourne-Taylor said. “It was really special.”
For more information on the Right to Dream Academy, visit RightToDream.com.