At first glance, it all doesn’t look like a football facility. Cool, serene, and very well organized. The Right to Dream Academy located in Old Akrade in the Asuogyaman District is one of the finest in the country.
The walls of the inner area of the academy are littered with motivational inscriptions and the academy’s core values that have duly sunk into the students for having seen them so many times.
On another end of the academy, boards with achievements of past members have also found their way on the walls to drum home the essence of persistence and hard work. Aside from football being the academy major mandate, they hope to produce professionals who will one day fit into every aspect of life.
Players who might not be able to cut it under the pressing demands of being a professional footballer can also have multitudinous opportunities as the normal school going kid.
As an academy of grooming astute players including Black Stars strikers Majeed Waris and David Accam, Aduana defender, Godfred Saka and Ghana’s U-20 star Yaw Yeboah, the students would not have to look too far for role models. Except those I went in to talk to are different.
The Right to Academy has spent years developing Ghana’s male football stars. Now they are offering a platform for girls to chase their dreams too with Ghana’s first female academy. With women football largely becoming as big as the men, the academy introduced a section for girls in 2013 to serve as a supply channel of women footballers to the national teams.
The fact that an all girls academy is a novelty means there have inevitably been challenges. I spoke to King Osei Gyan – a graduate of the academy who has played in Europe for Fulham and Anderlecht and is now back to man the affairs of the academy.
“Everything you set out to do is challenging and we take the challenge as an opportunity to motivate us to do more. In terms of girls’ football, we are one of the very few academies in Africa that is focusing on giving them the opportunity. So the challenge comes from finding them. We have found a way to find the talent but it is still quite challenging,” he admitted.
In October the girls watched one of their own at the UU-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan. Fuseina Mumuni, a graduate of the academy, featured for Ghana in a tournament that left many of the girls disappointed not to have progressed further.
The Maidens meandered their way out of their group after they were thrashed by the USA only to be eliminated in the next stage by a late North Korea goal. Captain of the current girls team, Patience Kum recounts how excited she was to have seen Mumuni in Ghana’s colours and expressed her dream to one day play for the ultimate women’s team in the country, the Black Queens.
“Representing my country will make me very proud because then it will be like I have been able to achieve something and then the younger girls can also emulate what I have done,” she said
For many girls, it is a wonderful path to fulfilling a challenging dream but given the existing stereotypes against women participation in football, it will be difficult to recruit the girls.
“We have a scientific approach to recruitment and that and that involves the boys and same with the girls so we go into specific communities and we identify these talents. We got about 19 girls through the system, three have gone on to scholarships in America. We are getting bigger. We also go to communities where they can come and have their trials. The bigger we get, the more we can have girls coming into the recruitment programmes like we do with the boys” King added.
Given the role Right To Dream has played in providing the platform for many players to live their dream, those who get picked can consider themselves lucky.