Thanks for the comment, Chris.
At some point last year I exchanged e-mails with someone on your team about the Ghana team, but they weren’t able to compete then. We’re really happy to have another international team and we want to do everything possible to help.
About the KOP:
Before FIRST Brazil was created and the Local Kickoff was started, we had to go to Manchester to pick up the kit. FIRST will ship the kit to your location, but you’ll have to pay (and it would be REALLY expensive) and, if the Ghanaian government is like every other government in the world, the import taxes would be huge.
Until FIRST Ghana takes off (and we all know it will, sometime… it’s FIRST fever :p) and you can have your own local kickoff, FIRST will not ship the kits for free. Since this is a special situation, you could try to contact FIRST and explain it to them and see if there’s anything that can be arranged about that.
Even if there is, you still have to consider how long would it take for the kit to arrive and the potential custom taxes that could be charged.
Getting the kit late is terrible - we are a veteran, experienced team and having the kit delayed for over two weeks a couple of years ago almost ruined our season. I can only imagine how bad it would be for a rookie team. Back then, the quality control on kit shipping wasn’t as good as it is now, so there were always lots of parts missing. It shouldn’t happen by now, but imagine getting your kit three weeks late and then finding out you only got one CIM motor, as opposed to all the other teams getting six of them, or whatever.
I can’t really help you with the customs procedures in Ghana, but underdeveloped countries like Brazil and Ghana are often swamped in corruption, bureaucracy and heavy taxes, so you really have to consider that.
Just last year, what we had to pay in taxes to get the kit in Brazil was enough to send two people to Manchester and get them back with the kits, poof balls and a couple of AndyMark’s transmissions.
This year, luckily, things are more organized and we will be paying around 40% import taxes on the kit value (around $ 3000, declared), but it still is a lot of money, and doesn’t solve the need for game parts (balls, tetras, whatever). Being in Manchester helps you with that, as well.
This has been a long message and all I could really do is present you with some options, not definite answers. As low as your budget may be, if you can’t work something out with FIRST, I believe flying into Manchester to pick up the kits is still the best option.
Feel free to reply with doubts and questions, we’re always glad to help rookie teams so they don’t have to go through all we had to go to to get where we are now. I mean, nowadays there’s even a manual session for international teams!
If you have questions about other problems international teams may encounter, PM me and I’ll try to help.
Sorry for being so long,