Ghana supporters during the U17 World Cup 2017 against Niger at DY Stadium, Navi Mumbai .
The Ghana U-17 players walked to the edge of the pitch after the final whistle, facing the stand their fans were gathered in. Then came a dance routine, performed with the same rhythm and telepathic synchronisation they used to beat Niger 2-0. The claps, and the graceful leg movements — that resembled crescent kicks — was mirrored by the group of 43 Ghana fans. “The dance is called ‘Fubia,’” says team captain Eric Ayiah. “We practice it everyday after training. When we saw the fans, the coach told us to do it in front of them to thank them.”
The group of 43 were members of the Ghana Supporters Union. Wearing identical t-shirts – all bright shades of red, yellow and green with a black star in the middle to represent the national flag – the visiting fans were the heart and soul of the party. They sang hymns, from start to finish, in their local language Twi. “Thank you Jesus, for helping us,” says David Osafo, translating one of the songs. There was a religious tinge to all their chants, as words such as ‘Amen’ and ‘Elijah’ (a biblical character) made way into their football revelry.
The party could have been bigger and louder had security allowed them to bring their drums and flutes into the stadium. The red, yellow and green maracas were permitted though, and were used to provide the background score. These fans were such hits that they not only turned neutral Indian fans to cheer for Ghana but became mini-celebrities by the end of the evening. In the stands, people queued up to take pictures and selfies with them, sometimes even while holding up Ghana flags. The Union, which is supported by the government, makes it a point to follow the national team to every international tournament. In Brazil, for the 2014 World Cup, over 1000 fans were sent.
''The problem then was that there were too many people, so logistics was difficult. That’s why we sent only 43 people here and it’s been comfortable,'' says Osafo. In their first appearance at the U17 World Cup, the fan group has made its presence felt. “You should see how it is during local club matches, when we have our drums,” quips another fan.
For now in India, they sing acapella save for the maracas. At the end they are greeted by the players by the Fubia – Ghana’s answer to Iceland’s Viking Clap.