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Ghana Legend (IK)

Isaac Kpelle/Twenty Ten

Associated features: The Red Stars, South Africa (Photo feature), Football college, Nigeria (Photo feature), Ghana's future stars (Photo feature), A Dreaming Drogba, Liberia (Photo feature), Surviving Dreams, Nigeria (Photo feature), Hogsback Lion Cubs (Photo feature), A coach with vision, Zambia (Multimedia feature)

Location: Accra, Ghana

As goalkeeper for his country’s Under-17 and Under-20 national football team from in 1993, Ali Jarra had a long and prosperous soccer career ahead of him. All of that changed, however, during the FIFA World Cup match tournament in Japan when he suffered an injury that almost left him paralysed.

The 17-year-old star keeper was forced to abandon any hopes he had of playing football and focus on making a recovery. At such a young age, Ali already had numerous achievements to boast of. He participated in the FIFA and CAF youth tournaments in Italy, Japan, Mauritius and Australia, to name a few. During this time he was dubbed Toyota’s best player, SWAG’s best player and Peugeot’s most promising star.

Faced with the disappointment of not being able to achieve his dreams, Ali chose not to take pity on himself but channelled his energies into raising Ghana’s next generation of goalkeepers.

In 2000, Ali founded JUST Goalkeeper Academy with a vision to invest in the lives of aspiring goalkeepers and train them to one day represent their country. As the only one of its kind, JUST Academy attracts hundreds of soccer players from across the country and many retired goalkeepers have taken teaching positions there. The training sessions take place at the Mamprobi Indadfa Park in Accra and target anyone from amateurs to premier league division players.

With another FIFA World Cup soccer showcase about to kick off, Ali Jarra should be celebrated for his willingness to pick himself up after such a personal loss and pour his knowledge and skills into the lives of Ghana’s future goalkeepers.

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