Africa’s Treichville Dockers Celebrating Christmas at Easter
For a year and a half, Eric Kouakou, the driving force behind the Treichville Dockers, an American football club in Africa’s Ivory Coast, has been patiently waiting for American football equipment from the United States.
Last week, his wait ended as Christmas arrived in time for Easter celebrations. The load of equipment former football coach and US Army veteran Dan Miles has been trying doggedly to have shipped for more than a year, landed in Abidjan, one of the major cities in the Ivory Coast.
As we wrote about in November 2014, Miles was looking for sponsors to help fund the cost of shipping the helmets, shoulder pads and jerseys to Eric’s team, the Treichville Dockers.
In spite of numerous appeals, Miles received no offers and so, in the end, he shelled out the money himself to have the equipment shipped to Kouakou. Although he had to pay $340 in customs charges, Kouakou was happy.
“I cannot believe that we actually have equipment now. It truly feels amazing. This is a dream come true. We have no other way of getting equipment like this. Dan Miles never gave up on us.”
The story began in 2014 when Kouakou happened to a read a blog Miles had written on helping developing countries in Africa introduce American football. He contacted Dan and told him the story of the Dockers and Miles began pulling strings within his own team at the time, the St. Petersburg Tide.
At that point, Miles had assembled enough jerseys, pants, helmets and shoulders pads for one entire team. He had intended to ship the equipment to the Dockers but did not have the means to do so.
“We worked on several different avenues to get this shipped over,” said Miles. “Although it didn’t happen in the timeframe I was expecting, finally, after shipping the equipment in January this year, it landed where it is most needed.”
Despite not having this equipment until now, Kouakou’s resolve has never wavered:
“We were never going to give up. We have been working on flag football and sometimes part flag and part tackle, but now, with this equipment, we can start teaching and playing tackle football.”
The game is truly starting to grow on the African continent with Egypt leading the way with two leagues. Morocco played and won an international contest against Egypt in late 2014 while both Kenya and Nigeria have university teams. South Africa has now formed its own federation and with this equipment arrival, the Ivory Coast will begin organizing in earnest.
Ironically, Africa has produced more NFL players than most people realize as the website African Ballerz points out. One of them is, Kenyan Daniel Odongo who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts.