Young Ghanaians are living the dream as they see off top European teams

Ghana's Right To Dream - at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Milk Cup at Coleraine Showgrounds.''Picture by Declan Roughan / Presseye
Ghana's Right To Dream - at the opening ceremony of the 2015 Milk Cup at Coleraine Showgrounds.''Picture by Declan Roughan / Presseye

The Right to Dream Academy may not be known to many in Northern Ireland but they have been making plenty of headlines this summer.

Their talented sides have been sweeping up at torunaments across Europe over the last few weeks.

Just last week the Under-15 side won the Manchester United Premier Cup for the first time in their history, beating Genoa 4-3 on penalties in the final at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The Ghanaian side lived up to their reputation as a team to watch after emerging victorious in the Marveld tournament earlier this year. Frazer Robertson’s youngsters edged out their Italian rivals to lift the Nike-sponsored trophy at the seventh time of asking.

The U15s will join the U18 squad at the Dale Farm Milk Cup before heading to Manchester for the World Finals of the Nike Premier Cup. Both squads are hoping to build on a successful European Tour earlier in the year, where the Academy was unbeaten in all 41 matches against the best youth teams in Europe, including Benfica, Chelsea, Ajax, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Reflecting on the recent European Tour and the forthcoming tournaments, RtD Founder and CEO Tom Vernon said: “The Academy students are now producing results at a world-class level in youth football.

“These results are not achieved overnight – its the culmination of years of hard work by the students and staff, focusing not just on their football but on their education and, most importantly, their character.

“It is their strength of character that, in my opinion, sets them apart. And it’s further evidence that if you provide the talented youth of Africa with the right opportunity, they can not only compete with the rest of the world, they can beat them.”

The Right to Dream Academy was founded in 1999 by a former Manchester United scout Vernon determined to use sport as an agent for change, to build a better, brighter future for Ghana. Since that time, the Academy has grown and evolved and now also supports the development of girls football and paralympic athletes.

Coach Frazer Robertson is hopeful that his team can can carry on their good form into the Dale Farm Milk cup for the very first time.

“These players have been together for four years now, and play really well together,” said Robertson.

“We have some great players in the team - one of whom is already training with the U-18 squad and, as always, we have a unique character and quick passing style.

“I think it helps that we split age groups when we play in a tournament like this. That way, half the team will already have some experience and add stability for the younger boys.”

Tournament Chairman Victor Leonard said: “People tend to look at club sides to identify quality but more and more across the world non-affiliated academies are producing the talent pool to feed senior football and in Right To Dream we will have two sides bursting with incredible talent.”