The Manhyia Royal Palace in Kumasi was the perfect setting for the historic launch of the Books and Boots project on Saturday.
Sponsored by Voltic Mineral Water in partnership with the Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Charity Foundation, the event was launched with much excitement and fanfare in the Garden City.
The community-reading-caravan tour is seen by football stakeholders as the potential answer to Ghana’s dwindling fortunes in Fifa’s under age competitions and has the full backing of the Ghana Football Association.
In a presentation on behalf of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Dr. Agyarko Poku the secretary of the Charity Foundation announced the introduction of the Mobile Library project which would be used to reach communities, present books and register young readers throughout Kumasi.
The Otumfuo Mobile Libraries would be operational by November 2011 and would network hand in hand with the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education and other education stakeholders.
The coordinator of the reading sessions Miss Rita Agyen who is also the director of Active Minds Reading Club, commended Voltic’s ever present sponsorship since 2008 when the project started as Street Soccer Africa in Accra. Four years on, Voltic’s support ensured that once again some of the finest colts talents age 12 and below, would be discovered to display their soccer skills and more importantly, exhibit their brain power.
In response, the district manager of Voltic Mr. Patrick Asumang Yeboah and his assistant Mr Ernest Addai assured the organisers of continued support. They presented boxes of Voltic Mineral Water and Club Cola to all the participants.
In his interaction with the pupils before the commencement of the reading clinic, the Mayor of Kumasi, Hon Samuel Sarpong declared that he would personally champion the success of the innovative Ghanaian concept. ”Combining education and recreation to encourage children to adopt a reading habit is the surest way to success and i am particularly pleased to see that all of you can read”.
Mayor Sarpong entreated the coalition of partners including Active Minds Reading Club, Otumfuo Education Foundation and the National Service Scheme to keep records of the reading sessions and progress for future data analysis that could be used to measure the success of the project. He presented goal posts, jerseys and other items to the teams with the promise of more to come through the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly.
The representative of the Youth and Sports Minister Akwasi Sarpong presented 10 footballs to the competing teams and promised that his ministry would support the project in any way to ensure it’s success. In the address read on the Minister’s behalf, Mr Sarpong expressed the delight of the youth and sports ministry at such a novel concept that was executed with ease by trained reading tutors and mentors. He assured the gathering of more support from his outfit and encouraged the participants to take the reading sessions just as seriously as they would play soccer.