Six youth players from Ghana's Africa Vision Soccer Academy were killed Saturday when their team bus veered off the road on their way home from a player registration session, according to a statement released by the Ghana Football Association.
The six players were between the ages of 12 and 16. The accident happened on the Kumasi-Offinso road in the Ashanti Region in south Ghana. The team was returning to the village of Afrancho in the Bosomtwe district when the vehicle went into a river.
A spokesman from the local police department said an additional 30 people were injured in the accident.
"The leadership of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the National Juvenile Committee (NJC) have learnt of the passing of six juvenile football players on Saturday, September 18, 2020 at Offinso, near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region," the GFA said in a statement.
"The GFA wishes to express our deepest condolences to the family of the six young footballers who passed away after the car they were travelling on submerged.
"We are deeply saddened by the development and wish to express our condolences to the family of the deceased and a speedy recovery to the rest of the team who sustained various degrees of injuries during the accident.
"In these trying times, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all the bereaved families, those injured and those going through psychological stress. Our thoughts are with the family of the departed and the victims."
The federation have sent a delegation to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi to visit with those who survived the accident, while another contingent have been dispatched to console the victims' families.
Edmund Nyamekye, Divisional Commander for the Offinso Motor Traffic and Transport Department of the Ghana Police Service, shared more details about the circumstances of the accident.
"There were 36 passengers onboard," he told CitiNews. "Our investigation revealed that the passengers were made up of football team members who were returning after taking part in a league [registration].
"Upon reaching the spot at River Offin, [possibly] as a result of speeding, the driver lost control of the steering wheel, veered off the road and entered into the river.
"Six of the passengers between the ages of 12 and 16 died on the spot. Thirty others sustained injuries. They were sent to the St. Patrick Hospital for treatment."
Domestic giants Asante Kotoko paid tribute to those who died in the tragedy, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
"Our heartfelt condolence goes to the families and victims of the Colts club involved in the tragic road accident at Offinso," the club wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. "We also pray for the victims and wish the injured speedy recovery. We are with you."
Traffic incidents involving sports teams in West Africa are not uncommon; in March, eight players from Guinean second division side Etoile de Guinee were killed on their way to a league game.
Later that month, two Nigerian footballers from Enugu Rangers, including international forward Ifeanyi George, were killed in a collision in Abudu. Another NPFL star, Kano Pillars' Chinedu Udoji, died due to an accident after a Nigerian top flight match in February 2018.
While Ghanaian football is currently suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Ghanaian Football Association have re-opened player registration ahead of the sport's return, penciled in for later this year.