Kwame Yeboah’s life story is anything but a free kick. From humble beginnings on the Gold Coast, he’s played abroad in Germany and is now back in Oz scoring goals for the Western Sydney Wanderers. We sat down with Kwame to discuss culture, confidence and the importance of hard work.
Where did your football journey begin?
KY: When I was five my mum put me into it. I’m 25 now, so I’ve been playing for 20.
I’m sure in such a long time, there’s going to be ups and downs…
KY: Mainly throughout my professional career, which started when I was 18 years old. That’s the time where I started to get the ups and downs.
You know, when I was five years old, I didn’t really have many ups and downs. I just kicked the ball to kick a ball. But as you progress and get older and start taking the sport as seriously as a job, you begin to experience many ups and downs.
It’s a business and you expect to perform at a certain level and a certain degree for certain people.
As we started talking about struggle, we began talking about Kwame’s time in Germany. In 2013, at the age of 19, Kwame’s signed a contract with Borussia Mönchengladbach. It’s impossible to comprehend how hard that must have been. New country, new language, new team – nothing would be easy.
How did you find Germany?
KY: As I was in Germany at 19, I didn’t have a lot of family beside me there, of course. So I went alone. We still could speak on Facetime and that but often we would only have a five or six hour window.
Would you say you need a good support network to overcome struggle?
KY: Yeah. I mean, of course, to overcome struggle. What I’ve experienced and I found that family is definitely most important.
There are so many metaphors and stories in sport films that show the hero character overcoming struggle. Can you relate to those stories at all?
KY: Overcoming a struggle in the sports world makes you mentally stronger as a person because you’re in situations or being forced into situations where there is only one way out. In Germany for instance, I had to set up a new life, set up my electricity, talk to teammates, travel and that was all in German.
As we spoke more about Kwame’s professional life, we wanted to know what else went on, off the field, and finally what happens when individuals overcome struggle.
What don’t people see?
KY: Most people just say ‘I’m a sportsman or an athlete on TV playing that 90 minutes’. And that’s all they say.
They don’t see the background and all the sacrifices. What athletes do in my situation, what I sacrifice as a footballer in terms of being able to be seen going here or be seen going there; or not wearing a certain product; or leaving family for a certain amount of time.
These certain little struggles, when you’re coming down, when you need downtime when you’re struggling through a certain time in your life.
Do you think struggle is good for people?
KY: After you’ve overcome struggle, you’ve got that confidence. You’ve got that self-belief. Once you have that, it’s very easy or a lot easier, I should say, to express yourself, whether it’s in my case on the field or off the field with the boys, whether it’s speaking German, you know, to speak their language, to really be confident in and speaking their language.
How important is confidence?
KY: Once you overcome your struggles, confidence will play a big part in being able to express yourself in every way.
Confidence is number one. Everything is based on confidence. Your performance is based on confidence. How you express yourself to another person is confidence, how you hold yourself in a room full of people is confidence.
Confidence determines whether you reach your dreams or if you don’t.
You can catch Kwame lacing up for the Western Sydney Wanderers during the A-League season.
Watch Kwame’s story on Instagram.