When nine, young intelligent girls were handed five-year scholarships to join Africa’s renowned Right to Dream Academy a year ago, it was widely seen as a pioneering programme.
RtD’s vision is to provide talented, underprivileged girls with the opportunity to fulfil their true potential in life through football training, education and character development - to claim a better future for their communities and country.”
The idea of setting up a residential girl’s football academy in Africa was a novelty at the time, representing another major milestone in the history of football in Ghana and the African continent.
A year on, the success story of the bold initiative by the Old Akrade-based Academy is there for all to see.
One cannot help observe the maturity the girl’s have attained over the period in terms of their character, educational excellence and football development.
" What I’m happy about is that, after one year, the girls feel a strong connection and identity with the RtD philosophy. They see themselves as very much part of the RtD family," Eileen Hewlett head of Pastoral Care said.
" Most of them are now developing precisely the attitudes that we want to build at RtD. I can see that although they are not there yet with regards the character traits, they are now very certain about what they want to achieve."
She further added, "These girls come from different areas of the country: some from the North, Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. You can see that their characters are different. They have come from poor families, who struggled to provide three square meals a day. So they have started a journey at the Academy, learning to work as a team, using their initiative and through this developing strong self-disciplined characters."
The girls hit the turf
After nine months after establishment two of the girls were handed call- ups to the National female U-17 team.
Fuseina Munmuni one of the girls shared her experience, "Every time, I told myself that I’m there for a purpose. I always told myself I am here to open the door for others to have the opportunity."
Fuseina gained invaluable experience, training and playing with her older colleagues in the Ghana U17s.
"I had a lot of people asking me questions because they said nobody my age (12) had played in the tournament before. Many people came to our camp asking about me as a result."
"I was afraid the first time I was interviewed by a woman because I didn’t know what to talk about. Another man interviewed me after but I later developed confidence. It was made easier for me because I had learnt a lot from RtD especially from Madame Eileen.”
"If you are in Right to Dream, you will get more opportunities compared to another person elsewhere in Ghana - look at the teachers, the coaches and the staff who we have to guide us at RtD. We should not forget this. We have to take this chance and make the most of it", she added.
Tullow Oil, Africa’s leading Oil company recognised the strides made by the Academy and decided to help with it's growth, a partnership was agreed in March.
" I found them to be very smart, focused and purpose-driven young ladies. From the time I spent with them, I believe a crop of determined and resilient future nation-builders are being developed. The kind of training they are receiving at the Academy will play a significant role in what they become in future and how they play their nurturing role as women," Bernice Natue, the Communications & Investor Relations Manager of Tullow said.
"The concept of giving girls the opportunity to develop their skills and talent to the fullest possible potential is a laudable initiative, and RtD deserves commendation for the vision and commitment to make it a reality for today’s Ghana and that of posterity."
"Given the pivotal role of women in the making of worthy families, communities and societies - an environment that provides a disciplined approach to professional and personal development of women is a great asset to the nation."
As the RtD girls’ academy programme enters its second year, it is expected that the number of scholarship places will be expanded, and the Academy girls will continue to strive - through education, football and character development – to become female role models for their communities and beyond.
The success story after a year is glare for everyone to see.