LORTON, Va. (DC News Now) — Kwamina Vandyke is proud of his legacy at South County high school.

“We definitely set a blaze, a culture and a attitude here at South County,” Vandyke said.

As a senior at South County in 2011, Vandyke led the Stallions to their first district and region titles and state title game appearance. Though his toughest challenge may have been convincing his parents to let him play football.

“My dad would be like, ‘what time are you getting home?’ And I’m like, ‘we have a game tonight.’ And he’s like ‘well ok then you need to come home early,'” Vandyke said. “And I’m like, ‘we can’t come home early we’re playing.’ And his thing was like, ‘well then I’m gonna go tell the coach that you can’t play anymore.’ I’m like, ‘Dad it doesn’t work that way.’ And he’s like, ‘you didn’t clean the house! So it has to work that way!'”

From Ghana in West Africa, Vandyke’s parents move to America in the 1980s. He was born in 1994.

“They didn’t fully understand the concept of how big American football was,” Vandyke told DC News Now. “My dad knew Tom Brady. My mom when she was talking to her friends she would tell them ‘my son’s are good at football, they’re the point guards of the team.'”

Vandyke’s hard work in high school paid off, he played college football at Virginia Tech, earning a degree there, before finishing his career playing at Hampton.

Vandyke’s close friend and teammate from South County Oren Burks is now playing on the San Francisco 49ers after a successful college career at Vanderbilt. Vandyke and Burks had been discussing a trip to Ghana together for more than a decade, but didn’t go until April of 2021.

“The idea for the trip it came up in high school. We were in between summer football and things like that and [Vandyke] would talk about the country of Ghana, his heritage and things like that,” Burks said. “He was like, ‘man you gotta come to Ghana, you gotta come to Ghana.’ And we were able to make it happen.”

Now in their late 20s, Vandyke and Burks held a football camp for teenagers interested in the sport in Ghana during their trip.

“Being there and seeing these guys speak the same language that I grew up listening to and the hunger,” Vandyke said. “I saw myself. Different country. Different resources, all that. But the grit and the tenacity was the same.”

In Ghana, Desmond Agyei had been dreaming about football for years.

As a young boy, Agyei saw a video on social media of Odell Beckham Jr. making his signature one handed catch when he was with the New York Giants. He was hooked. Agyei began watching YouTube videos of the sport, and told DC News Now that he initially thought the sport was scripted.

Agyei heard about Vandyke and Burks’ football camp in Accra, Ghana, and decided to attend it.

“He was the youngest one there,” Vandyke said. “He just showed so much promise. He was so intrigued.”

The camp was Agyei’s first in-person official exposure to football players.

“I started and I see the energy and the passion,” Agyei said. “Coach Vandyke’s energy, Oren Burks’ energy and I was like wow this is really crazy.”

Burks was playing for the Green Bay Packers at the time. During the trip, he and Vandyke visited Vandyke’s family and enjoyed Ghanaian cuisine. While the trip was special for the high school friends, meeting Agyei changed their life, and his.

“It was a turning point for me,” Agyei said. “I was like ok, if I want to do this. There’s going to be circumstances and stuff but if I don’t give up, there might actually be a possibility for me to make my dream come true.”

Agyei’s dream was coming to America to play high school football. He began reaching out to coaches in the states and following up with Vandyke and Burks to see if they could help him make it happen.

“After the camp, [Desmond] was like, ‘hey, I would like to play football in America,'” Burks said. “‘How can we make this happen?'”

Due to Burks’ demanding NFL schedule, Vandyke handled the detailed work to help Agyei come to America and achieve his dream.

Vandyke said he told Agyei, “if there’s a way, I will do everything in my power to ensure that you can come and play in America.”

Along with Burks, Vandyke raised funds to help Agyei. He also completed paperwork and even became Agyei’s legal guardian in America so he could come here.

“I’m just thanking God for meeting Coach Vandyke and Oren Burks,” Agyei said. “Because if it weren’t for them, I would still be in Ghana, still chasing my dream.”

Vandyke flew with Agyei from Ghana to Washington, D.C., and then to California. This Fall, Desmond made his debut playing football at Rancho Christian high school in Temecula, California.

“You know my friends called me a proud father, because all over my Instagram I’m like,” Vandyke said. “Here’s Desmond! Y’all see Desmond at school! Y’all see Desmond at practice! This is Desmond’s first such and such.”

In a game earlier this month, Agyei broke off a big run. Thousands of miles away, like “a proud father” Vandyke excitedly showed a clip of it during an interview on the football field at South County.

“It was amazing. I felt like I held the ball and I started running,” Agyei said. “All I had in my head was, you know you didn’t come from Ghana to here to just like do little stuff.”

Vandyke and Burks say their work doesn’t stop with Desmond.

“Our goal is to build football as what you see now, even what we’ve done, in Ghana – flag football leagues, contact leagues within the high schools,” Vandyke said. “Those that do have that talent, that raw talent, have that pipeline to be able to come like Desmond to these private schools.”

Vandyke and Burks are currently working on continuing to build and establish their non profit organization, “New Home Football Academy.”

Vandyke says he hopes that in the near future more Ghanaian student athletes can come to America and can maybe even play at schools in the Washington, D.C. area.

“We can sponsor their visa, we can sponsor their housing,” Vandyke said. “So the kids that can play right now and don’t need to be developed. Hey, you can come to this school, you can come to a Good Counsel, you can come to a DeMatha, you can come to a St. John’s.”

Many NFL players have African ancestry, Burks said he hopes that the impact of his and Vandyke’s efforts, can reach other NFL players.

“If we expand the game to the point where it’s like, alright some of these guys can go home to potentially play in West Africa,” Burks said. “Think how amazing that would be.”

As Agyei lives out his dream, Burks and Vandyke continue to work hard to expand their accomplishments. The South County alumni continue to dream big too.

“Oren’s parents are from Lynchburg, my parents are from Dansoman, Jamestown in Ghana, but yet Oren who is now playing for the 49ers, ate our traditional food at my father’s house in Ghana,” Vandyke said. “So what does that look like 20 to 30 years from now if we keep building that? Who else eats at the family houses in Ghana? And who else like Desmond comes to the states and is able to connect with people he never would have? All through the game of football.”

You can find more info about Vandyke and Burks’ organization here. They are also continuing to raise funds to support Agyei here.