A group photo of two men in the middle of a group of boys wearing sports uniforms.
1, 2 or 3: Hussein Alhassan, a master’s candidate in VCU’s Center for Sport Leadership, (left) visits with Mohammed Nurudeen, director of the Top Ten Academy, (right) and a group of the academy’s young athletes. Alhassan helped orchestrate a donation of sports equipment to the academy. (Contributed photo)

VCU Center for Sport Leadership graduate student offers a big assist to hometown soccer players

Between semesters, Hussein Alhassan returned to Ghana with essential equipment for a local youth academy.

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In a display of global sportsmanship and community engagement, a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student has delivered the spirit of giving and empowerment to his former home community in Ghana.

Hussein Alhassan is a master’s candidate in VCU’s Center for Sport Leadership, whose program propels graduates in the global sports industry. After completing his first semester recently, he returned – bearing gifts – to Madina, a suburb of the West African nation’s capital where he grew up. Driven to uplift his community, Alhassan helped orchestrate a donation to the youth soccer side Top Ten Academy.

The sports equipment, such as bibs and a set of jerseys, represent much-needed resources that can foster athletic development among local talents. Alhassan worked with the CSL on the donation and had support from the YMCA of Greater Richmond and the ECNL, a U.S. youth soccer development league.

“It’s truly fulfilling to give back to my community and contribute to the dreams of aspiring athletes at Top Ten Academy,” Alhassan said. “The support from the CSL as well as YMCA and ECNL has been instrumental in making this initiative a reality. Together, we are creating positive change through sports and empowering the next generation.”

In his efforts, Alhassan was able to leverage the leadership of Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D., executive director of the CSL. Known for her commitment to sport development and sport diplomacy in Africa, she has bolstered communities across the continent through ENVEST – Empowering New Voices through Education and Sports Training – a program funded by the State Department.

The Top Ten Academy, a hub for aspiring athletes in Madina, has produced notable soccer players from the community, many of whom have featured for Ghana’s national team. But donations such as Alhassan’s offer benefits beyond the playing field, as they empower youth and help instill values of teamwork, discipline and determination.

His initiative comes as LeCrom and the CSL prepare to receive a delegation this spring from Ghana and Togo, part of a sport diplomacy mission between the U.S. and the West African neighbors. But at a more immediate level, the recent donation was received with joy and gratitude.

“We are excited and deeply moved by the generosity shown by the VCU Center for Sport Leadership,” said Mohammed Nurudeen, director of the Top Ten Academy. “We assure you that this donation of essential equipment will provide our kids the needed tools to pursue their dreams.”