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RITA DARKO - THE RIDE FROM BASIC TO APEX

The sound of the bell signaling that it was 'Sports & Games' was never disturbing. Will it ever be? The accompanying cries of joy as students stepped out of class was fun enough and savouring.  Then, one thing was common, a chance for classmates to play, most often football. Can't really tell why girls were often excluded from participating in the popular sport but it hinged largely on our social orientation.

Mythology simply casts girls' affiliation to any sport with claims of not bearing children leading the many tales. No wonder my friend Nana Akorsah confided in me that he was going to "chop off" the legs of any of his daughters once they developed the idea of turning to sports. Many parents have done that covertly in their minds though they had to let their girls' follow their dreams at some point.


2 decades ago, the Black Queens' 19-0 aggregate drubbing of Guinea in an AFCON qualifier sparked a marginal national interest in Women's football. Names like Albera Sackey, Adwoa Bayor, Memunatu Sulemana and Nana Ama Gyamfuah rolled on tongues as the senior Women's team went on to participate at the 1999 World Cup having placed second at the 1998 AFCON. Celebrated but was it enormous enough to cause a paradigm shift? 

Not discounting the fact that some girls could play football with boys at early ages, not most could take it up as a profession. In the Central Region of Ghana, Bawjiase to be precise, a young Rita Darko experienced a familiar script which she looked to overturn. 

Playing in school and on the streets with boys, some older Rita recalls doing it all for the fun. Just 8, it wasn't much of a concern until she turned 13 and still kept playing. Inspired by the insight of a Church Prophet, her mum took in the challenge regardless of the ever growing myths.

Under mum's care in Accra, she learnt a trade by joining Rot Weiss Ladies before having senior stints with Mawuena Ladies and Hasaacas Ladies in furtherance of her chosen lane. 
Blessed with athleticism and aggression, she earned call ups to the National Under 20 sides in 2014 and 2016. Beaming with 2 youth world cup experiences, she finally left the shore of Ghana in December 2017 to further her career in Portugal. 


Rita who functions best in central midfield and defence recounts how she managed to soar above the discrimination with determination. Having gained some economic independence, Rita, now 23, recounts how people now look up to her career to change their perception about girls playing football. As a vessel of change, the Athletico Ouirense player currently mentoring others exoressed her gratitude for where she has risen to. 

Currently recuperating from an injury she carried from Ghan, Rita will seek to use the 2019/2020 season to further enhance her career hoping to get the chance to represent her nation when called upon. Broke and basic,  she loves the intent of swapping the dusty stoney and partially green fields for greener pastures. Rita, however, regrets not representing Portugal at senior level having gotten the opportunity to do so. 
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