My dream is to help the needy – Baiden

Fifi Baiden

Fifi Baiden

For a number of participants who have registered for this weekend’s sports festival at Ayenya at Dodowa, it is another opportunity to engage in physical activity to stay healthy or remain competitive.
But for former Columbus Crew player Fifi Baiden whose Foundation is organising the event, it will be a fulfillment of a childhood dream to help orphans and the underprivileged children in society.
On Friday and Saturday, the FIFI Baiden Foundation will stage two major events – a soccer gala on Friday and a marathon on Saturday – to also give the people in the locality another angle to the annual Farmers Day celebration.
With a focus on orphans and underprivileged children in society, the events will also seek to raise awareness about malaria and HIV/AIDS.
In a chat with the Times Sports, the former Major League Soccer (MLS) star shared some thoughts about the whole event and the reasons behind the formation of the foundation. Below are excerpts.
Times Sports (TS): Fiifi Baiden, kindly share a little about you to readers.
Fiifi Baiden: Well I was born in Ajumako in the Central Region of Ghana, in a family of six consisting of three other siblings and our parents.
Just like many Ghanaian children, I grew up loving football and honed my skills on the streets of Ajumako, harbouring dreams of becoming a footballer one day and turn a professional later in life.
Opportunities were few and far between for me because I had to engage in other acts to support my parents to make ends meet from an early age.
TS: Exactly what did you do and how did that affect or delay your dream to become a footballer?
Baiden: My parents were poor and because they were unable to pay my school fees regularly, I had to help by selling kerosene and other petty stuff to compliment what they made.
I told myself that my parents would not be able to take care of me so I needed to make it happen myself through any opportunity that came my way.
TS: So what did you do?
Baiden: As fate would have it, I got an opportunity at the age of 10 when I won a scholarship to the Right to Dream (RtD) Academy – famed for producing some of the best talents in the country through education, football and its unique character training.
It was a huge boost for me because it gave me the training, tuition, food and everything.”
TS: Tell me what happened after accepting the scholarship; what did Right to Dream make out of you?
Baiden: After spending five years at RtD, I earned a scholarship to study and play football at Dunn School, a private boarding school in California in the US. There, I made an immediate impact with my dedication to studies, alongside winning MVP for three consecutive seasons in the school football team.
TS: What came out of that success story?
Baiden: While playing for Santa Barbara SC, I caught the attention of the University of California which offered me a scholarship. My career then grew in leaps and bounds. I made 18 appearances in my first year at UCSB before making a further 23 starts in the subsequent season.
I earned many accolades, including my selection to the All-Big West First Team, as well as a spot on the Big West Academic All-Conference Team.
TS: Share with readers your experience in the MLS.
Baiden: I joined the Major League Soccer (MLS) Super Draft on January 22, 2014. It was a crowning moment after years of hard work and determination.
I became the second RtD graduate to sign for any MLS side, following in the footsteps of Michael Tetteh, who signed with the Seattle Sounders three years earlier.
I 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, I turned my attention to coaching and worked at Santa Barbara Soccer Club as well as running my own California based soccer camps for children.
TS: The next for you was the formation of the Fiifi Baiden Foundation in Ghana. What was the motivation behind it?
Baiden: Realising the difficult conditions under which a number of children grow up which results in a number of them not seeing their dreams come to pass, I decided to give something back to the society to help shape up the lives of these unfortunate ones.
The vision of the foundation is to give hope and a better future to orphans and underprivileged children by empowering them with valuable tools through education and sports.
TS: When was it founded?
Baiden: It was founded in June 2017, quite fresh. It is located in Ayenya with me the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
We have plans to relocate to a newly acquired land and facilities in Loum, near Dodowa in a few years time.
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 Ghanaian coaching staff of the foundation.
Ten of the children are selected orphans from Ayenya who reside on site whiles the rest of the children that we support live at home with their parents. We also cater for the adults in the community through our adult education programme.
TS: What is the future like for the foundation?
Baiden: From my humble beginning, I have developed a passion for helping people and also look for opportunities to give-back to society. Through the Foundation, we hope to touch the lives of the underprivileged Ghanaian children and their families.
Our greatest desire is to see many young people get to the very top through the support we offer.
The good news is that we are being supported by a board that includes three other RtD graduates and Black Stars players David Accam and Mohammed Abu, as well as Emmanuel Boateng to achieve our aims and objectives.

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