Written by: Ayesha Harruna Attah
The African Development Foundation (ADF) is one man’s way of turning his access to opportunity into the dreams of the less fortunate. George Ntim, the founder and president of the ADF is hoping to improve the lives of youth in Ghana, first through baseball, then through education and healthcare. He says with the work he’s started if he doesn’t do anything else for the rest of his life, he’ll be content.
The story of the ADF begins at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in mid-town Manhattan, where George has worked some years now. As the Director of Guest Relations, he’s come into contact with people from all over the world, including several baseball players. Over the years, he’s established good relations with these players, a lot of whom he convinced to contribute to the ADF, which he founded in 2003.
The soft-spoken Ntim says he started with baseball because “I have a lot of friends who play baseball and their teams have offered to support me.”
The ADF describes itself as an international non-profit organization that fosters goodwill and strengthens relationships between the United States and Africa though youth-oriented initiatives. So far its accomplishments include re-launching and giving funds to the Ghana Baseball and Software Association, sending baseball equipment to Ghana, and starting construction of a baseball complex in the capital city of Ghana, Accra. Ntim’s dream is to equip and enable a new crop of Ghanaian baseball players to compete internationally:
“I want to see a Ghanaian or youth of Africa playing Major League Baseball in the future,” he said.
The ADF functions mainly through donations from Mr. Ntim’s friends, family and business acquaintances. There’s also an annual fundraising dinner that honors people who have contributed to the organization and also takes pledges from people. These contributions are expected to go toward the completion of the baseball complex, establishing new Little Leagues in Ghana, sending Ghanaian players to Baseball academies in Europe and the States and making Ghana a center for baseball in Africa, and to do this $500,000 has to be raised. Ntim says so far they’re at $150,000.
On if baseball seems too narrow a focus, Ntim says he’s just using the resources he has and once this is done, he plans to foray into other sports such as basketball, and soon will be working on health and education. Also, questioned on if he’s doing nothing to reverse the loss of African players to teams outside Africa, Ntim says he hopes that the academies the ADF will establish will help curtail this loss.
His efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Ghana’s Youth and Sports Minister, Akua Dansua said George’s work is welcome, that her ministry aims to develop all sports in the country, and completely supports him. She said sports promote national unity and keeps the youth away from social vices.
Many of Ntim’s friends in the world of sports were present at the Fifth Annual Dinner of the ADF, including Julius Erwing (Dr. J), Don King, David Ortiz. Ntim is described as a man people can’t say no to, and this was very evident. Julius Erwing en route to the airport, stopped by to say hello. Honorees at this dinner included Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States; Rt. Hon Chibuike Amaechi, Executive Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria; Darryl Strawberry, Mets Hall of Famer; and Monica Westin, founder of World of Hope International.
Bernie Williams, a former Major League Baseball outfielder, who took the award on behalf of Darryl Strawberry said, “I’m here to support George. He’s using his influences and resources to make an impact on the country he’s from. I come every year to support.”
Dr. Ibn Chambas added, “An additional sporting activity is very helpful for youth. A healthy body is a healthy mind.”
Entertainment was provided by former American Idol contestant Nicole Ortiz, to whose music Ntim was seen to tear up and trumpeter Francis Akrofi.
The event went on without a glitch says Gregory Murphy, Managing Director of Skanska, whose work includes construction of the Yankee and Giant stadiums. He said he’s looking forward to leading his company back to African countries and George is one of the reputable people making this possible.
And if the phrase “Baseball in Ghana” seems to raise lots of brows, Ntim is not worried that sport won’t catch on. He says, “Ghanaians are naturally athletic.”
See photos of event at: