Former Columbus Crew player Fifi Baiden will see his dream of helping orphans and underprivileged children in society come true by organising a football gala tournament and a marathon for the Fifi Foundation at Ayenya, in the Eastern region on Friday, December 1st and Saturday, 2nd respectively.
The events are meant to bring the community together and also to raise awareness about Malaria and HIV/AIDS.
The vision of the foundation is to give hope and better future to orphans and underprivileged children in Ghana by empowering them with valuable tools through education and sports.
“Our foundation gives hope for a better future to orphans and poor children of Ghana by providing a residential sports and educational program that is deeply rooted in the community,” Fifi said.
Founded in June 2017, the Fifi Soccer Foundation is at the moment located in Ayenya but according to Fifi Baiden, who is the founder and CEO, there are future plans to relocate to “our purchased land and facilities in Loum near Dodowa in a few years.
The NGO is currently helping about 50 children between the ages of 6-12 of both boys and girls.
20 of the children were selected boys soccer academy players who were scouted by the Foundations Ghana coaching staff in a tryout.
Ten of the children are selected orphans from Ayenya who reside on site whiles the rest of the community children that we support live at home with their parents. We also cater for the adults in the community through our adult education program.”
Born in Ajumako, in the Central region of Ghana, Baiden is one of four children in his family.
Just like many Ghanaian youngsters, he grew up loving football and honed his skills on the streets of Ajumako, with a dream of making the professional ranks later in life.
Opportunities were few and far between for Baiden, who had to help his parents to make ends meet from a very early age.
I SOLD KEROSENE
“My parents were poor and sometimes they were not able to pay for my school fees. I helped my parents to sell kerosene and other petty stuff to help them make it,” he reflects.
“I told myself that my parents wouldn’t be able to take care of me so I needed to make it happen myself through any opportunity that came my way.”
As fate would have it, he had his opportunity at the age of 10. His life took a dramatic turn when he won a scholarship to the Right to Dream Academy – famed for producing some of the best talents in the country through education, football and its unique character training.
“The Academy changed me a lot. Getting the opportunity to be at Right to Dream was a huge boost for me because it gave me the training, tuition, food and everything.”
After spending five years at RtD, Baiden earned a scholarship to study and play football at Dunn School, a private boarding school in California in the US.
He made an immediate impact at his new school with his dedication to his studies, alongside winning MVP for three consecutive seasons in the school football team.
It was while playing for Santa Barbara SC that he caught the attention of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), who offered him a scholarship.
His career grew in leaps in bounds as he made 18 appearances in his first year at UCSB before making a further 23 starts in the subsequent season.
During his time at UCSB, he earned many accolades, including his selection to the All-Big West First Team, as well as a spot on the Big West Academic All-Conference Team.
THE BIG MOVE
When Fifi Baiden was drafted by Columbus Crew in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft on January 22, 2014, it was a crowning moment after years of hard work and determination.
Back then, Baiden became the second RtD graduate to sign for a MLS side, following in the footsteps of Michael Tetteh, who signed with the Seattle Sounders three years earlier.
Baiden was selected with the fourth pick of the Third Round, taking a significant step to fulfilling a long held ambition to play professional football.
After a few years of professional football, Fifi turned his attention to coaching and still works at Santa Barbara Soccer Club as well as running his own California based soccer camps for children ‘Fifi Soccer’.
Ray of hope for the underprivileged
From his humble beginning to his rise in the USA, Fifi has developed a passion for helping and also looking opportunities to give-back to society.
Through the Fifi Soccer Foundation, the former Columbus Crew player is positively touching the lives of underprivileged Ghanaian children and their families.
“I have always had the desire to give back to my country and to join in the quest to provide opportunities for poor and abandoned children,” Fifi said.
Meanwhile, Fifi is being supported by a board including three other RtD graduates and Black Stars players David Accam and Mohammed Abu, and Emmanuel Boateng to achieve the aims and objectives of the Fifi foundation.
By: Erasmus Kwaw/citifmonline.com/Ghana