From Ghana to St. Marys University, Twickenham via Dublin may not be a normal journey to many, but that is how Kwabena Boateng, affectionately known as ‘Denzel,’ traveled and ended up being elected the first black President of St. Marys University Sports Committee.
Born in the capital city of the Ashanti Region, Kumasi, before becoming the President of the largest society at St Mary’s University. In 2004 Boateng, 20, moved from Ghana to Dublin as his parents were offered new jobs in the capital.
While at secondary school in Dublin, Boateng was offered a scholarship by the Football Association of Ireland Schools Scholarship programme and went on to play semi-professional football at Drogheda United under 17s for two years, before moving to the under 19s at Drogheda Town Football Club for one year, before heading off to University in London.
How he became known as ‘Denzel,’ has more than a touch of Hollywood glitz about it. Boateng was inspired by the actor Denzel Washington after watching ‘The Great Debate’. He was inspired by Washington’s confidence and the way he changed many lives through public speaking. Having Washington as one of his role models, Boateng followed in oscar-winning actor’s footsteps and began public speaking soon after where he won numerous awards.
From then on, he began to be known as ‘Denzel’ amongst his peers.
During his second year at university in London, he was elected as the President of the sports committee. On the night of the Annual General Meeting, there were five candidates and Boateng shone through and was elected as the first black president at St Mary’s University, Twickenham sports committee.
“The club has been absolutely amazing. Everybody is treated equally, whether you’re from a different background, religion whatever it is. This year there has been a really big increase within diversity whether you’re Black, Asian, Middle Eastern. It’s been really good because when we were advertising our trials, the players were quite interested to see a black president and a committee with different cultures,” said Boateng.
Boateng is currently managing 180 members in the society but comments that it is not hard managing them all as they all get along and bring fresh ideas and opinions to the committee.
“I’m a bubbly guy, I like to get along with people and I treat everyone the same. I manage to build a good relationship with everybody,” continued Boateng.
Since being president, he has led the men’s futsal team to the second place of BUCS South Eastern 1A league, as well as helping to get the football team to third place in the league with still several games to go.
Boateng made history and led his team in breaking a Guinness world record on Thursday 14th November 2019 in one bounce football.
Having several members of the team affected in some way by mental health, the players took this as a driving force behind their decision to support the charity ‘Mind’, which provides help and support to those suffering from mental health problems.
The Guinness world record consisted of the St Marys F.C. players playing a minimum of four hours of one bounce football.
On initially learning the guidelines the players thought this would be an easy task. However, their task proved to be challenging, as the players had only three attempts. To their dismay, the players failed twice. By their third attempt, the players gathered together and focussed on the worthwhile cause, to now motivate each other to successfully break the record. The players made history by setting the record of four hours and 15 minutes in one bounce football and raised £625 for Mind charity.
Boateng plans to continue his duties as the president of the football society by taking part in more charity events with the SIMMS F.C. players and bring awareness to problems such as mental health and bring more diversity in sports.
After finishing his time at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Boateng plans to travel to the United States of America to complete a master’s whilst continuing playing sports.
“You never know, I might be a Jamie Vardy who didn’t get on the scene until 25, but I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Boateng.