- Age: 24
- Neighborhood: Flushing
- National Origin / Family from: Ghana
“I was around so many different types of people all the time,” William says about growing up in Queens. His family moved here from Ghana in the early 1970’s and he spent most of his life living in Flushing, then Queens Village, and has now moved back to Flushing as an adult.
As he guides us through his neighborhood we visit a Colombian bakery, a public park, and stroll by a Chinese produce market all within a few blocks. “I always knew that I would enjoy living here again. Everything is accessible, there’s great greenspaces, and an abundance of culture. Flushing is a wonderful place to live”. He unfurls his Ghanian flag for a photo. Passersby stop to look, the red, gold and green brilliant in the autumn afternoon sun.
To appreciate Queens as a kid, William had to first spend time in other boroughs.
I did not recognize how unique [Flushing is] until I started going to school in Manhattan in 7th grade. Flushing is a predominantly Asian neighborhood, but I was constantly surrounded by all types of people.
Growing up in Queens has given me such an appreciation of different cultures since forever because I have always been around them. Flushing has always felt comfortable to me. My family has been here since 1971. It’s home.
How would you describe Queens to someone who’s never visited?
Queens is one of the most diverse places on Planet Earth. That’s all I need to say. If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is.
The food, the activities, the energy. There’s always so much to do and see on any given day.
One night this summer I was bringing a visiting friend to the Queens Night Market. As we walked through Flushing Meadows Park, we came across a large gathering of folks making a food spread across many tables and playing music. My friend asked, is this the Night Market? I had to tell her no, this is just a summer Saturday at the park.
From Queensboro FC fan to team Ambassador, soccer is always about more than just the game on the field for William.
Once I heard there was a team coming to Queens with an explicitly local focus, I was immediately excited. [As] a QBFC Ambassador, I just want to be as much of a part of building this club and shaping the future as I can be.
Sports is about connection. The collective roar of the crowd is what we all are searching for. Those moments are made even better when you have personal connections with individuals in that crowd.
When he’s not repping QBFC-purple, he’s a Blue through and through
I’m a Chelsea fan. [Back around 2007] my thought process was simple—Michael Essien was Ghana’s best player, Michael Essien played at Chelsea. My grandfather presented me with an Essien Chelsea kit one day, and that was that. Locked in for life.
The best part about the World Cup? Everyone everywhere lives and breathes the sport we love.
The World Cup is a time to watch the best players in the world on the biggest stage on a daily basis. I love getting texts during a particularly exciting game from friends of mine who don’t usually watch soccer.
It’s great to walk into random stores and restaurants that have the games on—the other day I went to a vegetable store between two of the games and the owner was sitting there with the Fox coverage on. [During the World Cup] there’s a global, collective conversation about the tournament for a month that’s fun to be a part of.
Favorite World Cup memory?
For the 2010 World Cup I was in Ghana, in Akropong, the town my grandmother grew up in until she came to America in 1971. Akropong is one of the bigger towns along the Akuapem Ridge, a lengthy chain of towns across a rising and falling mountain range.
Our house sat just off the main road across the street from the Akuapem Grill, a local bar and restaurant with a large outdoor area that got packed during World Cup matches. I watched the games from inside our house, but even with the doors closed, with each goal I could hear the screams from across the street and along the entire mountain.
After the infamous Ghana vs Uruguay match*, the silence in the air was deafening. But the round before, when Ghana knocked out the US in extratime, I remember the cheering and music continuing well past full time.
*Infamous because Ghana was knocked out after an outrageous Luis Suarez handball on the goalline. Watch the highlights on Youtube if you’re unfamiliar, it’s one for the ages.
What are you most excited about for the future of soccer in Queens, and in the US general?
As the sport grows in popularity and becomes more accessible in Queens and across the country, I’m excited to watch fanbases grow and become more passionate.
I want soccer to be a part of daily conversation in the same way that the “big four” sports are, which I’ve already seen become more and more the case with my generation.
This is the Ghanian national team’s fourth World Cup. Nicknamed “the Black Stars” after the Black Star of Africa on their flag, which symbolizes African Freedom. They’ve won the African Cup of Nations four times and been runners up 5 times. Their fans are some of the most passionate in the world—in a 2011 match against England they set the Wembley record for largest away supporter attendance ever. In possibly the toughest group in the 2022 World Cup including Portugal and South Korea, Ghana enter the final group stage with a chance to move on in a rematch against none other than Uruguay.