From Coronado to Africa, Asante Sefa-Boakye is true to his roots. Now, he’s combining them by taking his childhood sport back to his family's homeland.
“There has not been anything like this in Ghana ever,” Sefa-Boakye said.
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Sefa-Boakye, who is the son of a Ghanaian immigrant who grew up in Coronado, fell in love with the sport of water polo and excelled.
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In a sport dominated by white athletes, he quickly became a standout for another reason.
“Being in a difficult position where I'm the only one who looks like me while playing a very difficult sport is definitely something that has hardened my character and really made it a defining quality that, ‘Hey. just ’cause I may look this way or I may be the only one here in the pool or the classroom, I’m still going to work just as hard if not twice as hard as you,’ ” Sefa-Boakye said.
Sefa-Boakye has competed as a collegiate and semi-professional player, but his biggest imprint on the sport could come outside of the pool.
Sefa-Boakye works half the year as a teacher, tutor and musician to earn the money needed to support his dream of one day building an African national and Olympic water polo team. He likens his effort to the famed Jamaican bobsled story, jokingly calling his mission “pool runnings.”
“It’s something very important to me, knowing my community as an African American and even my African community can know that there's no reason we can't succeed in this realm of athletics as well,” Sefa-Boakye said.
Thanks to growing awareness, fundraising and donations, the first-ever Ghana water polo league started Sefa-Boakye kicks off its first season in January.
While a shortage of pools in the country complicates training, Sefa-Boakye team gets creative by using rivers and lakes, and by running practice sessions on dry land.
“They’re picking it up very fast, from first going and placing the ball in one hand, to catching it easily, and they’re swimming speed is getting so much better,” said Sefa-Boakye. “They truly love the game.”
Sefa-Boake is in Ghana right now, working with his club, coaches and players.