The offseason is the time when Major League Soccer players can do things they are not allowed to due to the commitment professional soccer demands during the regular season. Some get into extreme sports, others prefer to visit unknown destinations and there are also those who just want to go home.
Columbus Crew SC’s center back Jonathan Mensah fits the last group, but don’t be fooled. The fact that he went home to his native Ghana doesn’t mean at all that his offseason was a quiet one.
The 28-year-old defender had an extensive schedule during his time back in his hometown Accra, but the highlight is easy to pick. On Dec. 29, the two-time World Cup veteran married his longtime partner Kafui Tinaglafo, who will soon join him in Columbus.
“It was great,” Jonathan told Massive Report. “We had planned it for a long time and when I went home for the offseason it was time to do it. Everything went great. Our families and friends came to support us and we had a lot of fun. And now she’s moving here to join me. Now that we’re married, we want to be together all the time. She’ll be very important to support me mentally and emotionally. I can’t wait.”
But Jonathan’s offseason’s plans didn’t only include his own needs. The defender, who has done charity work in his country since 2013 through the Jonathan Mensah Foundation, took part in some visits in person.
With the Foundation, Jonathan, who won the 2017 Ohio Health Humanitarian of the Year Award after his first season with the Crew, visits schools, orphanages and hospitals and provides all sorts of help, including donations and clean-up services. This offseason, the Dzorwulu Special School was one of the locations they visited.
“The foundation has been helping people for quite a few years now,” a proud Jonathan explained. “We go to schools and villages to help people in several different ways. We provide what they need and also help with education, cleaning, community services and donations. We do a lot.”
If that wasn’t enough, the Ghanaian found other ways to impact the lives of his community. A video of him and some friends rebuilding a street with their own hands in Accra went viral in January.
“I drove by and noticed the street looked really bad, so I wanted to do something about it,” he added. “I bought the stuff we needed, got some friends together and we started patching it. It’s just how it works in our community. Everyone there does anything they can to help each other and I like to do all I can. People clean places in the community, help people to rebuild houses and stuff like that. Anytime we can do something positive and help each other, we just to do it. It’s just like our culture is.”
After such a busy offseason, Jonathan returned to Columbus looking forward to get back to work. Even though resting wasn’t his number one priority during the offseason, it’s fair to say the center back was reinvigorated when he rejoined the Crew.
“I knew it would be quite a lot for me, but I had several people helping and I feel great now”, he commented. “Going home after a long season and spending time with family and friends is always great. I had a great time and I hope that leads me to a great season as well.”
The defender was certainly one of the most solid players in Columbus last year. After somewhat of an inconsistent first season in 2017, Jonathan rebounded in great fashion to lead one of the most effective defenses of the entire league.
And his plan to 2019 is to continue building through hard work, the same strategy he used in that street back in Accra.
“My individual preparation was better last year,” he remarked. “The experience of 2017 helped. I knew the league better and I could prepare accordingly. I brought everything I had and went to each practice trying to do my best.”
“As a team, we just want to take it from where we left off last year. We just want to keep moving forward and improving. I can improve every aspect of my game and that’s the goal. We want to achieve more.”