BEREA, Ohio — Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah wasn't always passionate about football. In fact, at one point he didn't want to play. That obviously is no longer the case and before coming back to Berea for offseason training, he used the time off to pass on his love for the game to the next generation.
Owusu-Koramoah's brother was the one who instilled that love of the game into him.
"My experience just started within the U.S. My brother wanted me to play. I didn't necessarily want to play," Owusu-Koramoah laughed. "He stuck the helmet on me. I didn't necessarily want to put the helmet on and it was kind of an issue."
Once that helmet went on (well, maybe not immediately after it went on), his feelings for football shifted.
"As time goes on, you kind of develop a love for the game, a love for the process, a love for the people, the brotherhood, the unity," he said. "I'm all about principles. So that's something that football teaches you if you use it and do it the right way."
Using those principles as a guide, Owusu-Korahmoah takes a very holistic approach to everything in his life, from the food he eats to the way he trains and everything in between—and that approach was reflected in two youth football camps he held back in Ghana this offseason.
It was a busy spring for the linebacker who held not one but two youth camps, one in Accra, Ghana and one in Takoradi, Ghana. The first camp in Takoradi has centralized around life principles that Owusu-Koramoah values and how they can translate to, and be channeled through, football.
"We talked a lot about the body, mind, spirit, connection, giving them some meditation, giving them some alkaline food, refreshments," Owusu-Koramoah said. "Teaching about health, teaching about football and how you have to be self-controlled, disciplined, consistent. So we talked a lot about the basic principles of life through that tool of football."
Not long after the first camp, up the coast in Accra, Owusu-Koramoah held another two-day camp in partnership with NFL Africa. That camp was more focused on developing football skills, but Owusu-Koramoah put his holistic touch on it.
"The second one was with NFL Africa, and we did a lot focusing on the combine scenario, which was evaluating them for further opportunities, also teaching them and giving them exposure to the game," he said. "We had a lot of people from Liberia, a lot of people from South Africa, Nigeria, of course, Nigeria floods everywhere. So we have things going on in Africa and everybody came to Ghana, which is my home, so that was a great experience."
The gathering of youth was something that Owusu-Koramoah was happy to be able to facilitate. But it was more than that. The very introspective linebacker saw the camps as a way for him to come away with lessons and growth as well.
Those lessons came during a Q&A portion of the camps. There was one question in particular that Owusu-Koramoah remembers well.
"We had a Q&A with some small children and that was phenomenal. One kid was like, 'Hey, I want to be like you?' And I was like, 'Why you want to be like me?' He was like, 'Uh...'" Owusu-Koramoah recalled.
He then used that child's question to impart a lesson he felt was very important to share.
"At that moment I was telling them, I said, 'You don't necessarily want to be like me because me, I only could be me. I have my own experiences. I have my own way of life. I see the world a certain way.' I said, 'I would much rather you maybe want to be like what I represent you want," Owusu-Koramoah shared. "'So you want to represent the principle of who I am, not necessarily me.'"
Owusu-Koramoah's message to the children was strong, but their impact on him was just as powerful, he said.
"It was a good experience to be able to answer those questions and not only to answer questions, but get questions. I was asking them questions as well," he said. "The youth is next up, so that was something that was really profound for me."
With camp participants from all around West Africa, Owusu-Koramoah left his mark on a large region beyond where he calls home. But having children and their families in from all over, bringing in their unique cultures, life experiences, life views and philosophies is something that left a mark on Owusu-Koramoah himself.
"If I had to list one thing that I learned there, it was definitely the art of unity and how people from different backgrounds could come really come together, at least for one aspect, one event. And that was a good thing to see," he said.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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