Raining Black Stars

African players model new Puma kit (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for Puma)

Puma unveiled the Black Stars’ new kit a little more than a week ago. Asamoah ‘Baby Jet’ Gyan was among the stars from the continent who rocked their respective countries’ new gear;  Yaya Toure was there to represent Cote d’ Ivoire, Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon and Steven Pienaar, South Africa, to name a few.

Puma’s Creative Africa Network were responsible for the designs with local artists representing the countries taking part. Inviting local artists to participate in the design process was a novel approach to conceiving the national kits of the countries Puma sponsors. The results stuck closely to the most recent Puma templates for jerseys while including the artist’s personal touch.

Ghana's Godfried Donkor (5th Right to Left) chose the theme, 'Raining Black Stars' for his design (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for Puma)

Ghana’s was designed by Godfried Donkor, a ‘fine artist’ by profession and a passionate supporter of the Black Stars. I spoke to ‘the man, the myth, the soon to be legend’ two days ago about his inspiration for the design, his sudden fame and the final product.

As a kid in Africa, the dream is to become the next Abedi Pele, Roger Milla, Rabah Madjer … Michael Essien, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and the list goes on.  In a few years, young artists may look to Puma’s initiative and want to become the next Godfried Donkor. So, did Donkor ever dream something like this could happen to him when he was a kid?

“No, even last year up until I got the call I would never have imagined it,” he says. “When we launched it last week that’s when it really dawned on me how big the project was and it’s been an amazing response.”

A native of Kumasi, Donkor left Ghana when he was eight but visits regularly – in some years as often as twice. The London resident says the congratulatory calls have not stopped: from relatives to people he’s lost touch with over the years.

He is merely reaping the rewards of the hard work he’s put in together with the Puma design team over a year and a half to come up with the Home kit. A few weeks before the 2010 World Cup he was approached by Puma representatives to work on the new design. Two weeks after he was asked, he settled on the theme ‘raining Black Stars,’ and submitted designs to reflect that idea. After much back and forth, we have a jersey.  “In the end I was happy with the final design,” he says, satisfied.

Ghana's new jersey (R in the trio of tops) has more stars than before and includes red, gold and green stars

Donkor adds, “I went back to all the memories I had of watching the great Ghana teams from the Abedi Pele era, more recently from the U-20 team and then this team which did so well in the World Cup,” to draw inspiration for the design. He also researched the jerseys the team has won since the ’50s in order to come up with something that would fit in the ever evolving look and feel of a Black Stars jersey. “The way they [2010 Black Stars] played without fear was one of the inspirations as well.”

If he had to do it all again, he would without hesitating. And if he had the power, he would make the stars on the jersey even darker. For that to happen though, FIFA’s rules would have to be broken. Given the fine levied against Puma and the Cameroon Football Federation in the past for a fashion faux-pas, that ain’t happening anytime soon.

For more on Donkor’s design, watch the video below.