Line-up of the girls’ academy team
When nine young intelligent girls were handed a five-year scholarship to join the Africa’s renowned Right to Dream Academy a year ago, it was widely seen as a pioneering programme.
The idea of setting up a residential girls’ 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.
The mission statement for the academy stated, ‘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.’
In a society where females do not have equal opportunities compared to their male counterparts, the Academy girls are intent on redefining the role of girls in Ghanaian society and becoming role models to inspire and lead positive change in their communities and in the country; challenging those who cling to the cultural stereotype that dictates a girl’s place is in the kitchen and no other place.
Building on RtD’s successful Character Development Programme (CDP), the first intake of female pupils have started reshaping their focus in life and set out clear goals to help realise their potential both in the classroom and on the football pitch.
A year on, the success story of the bold initiative by the old Akrade-based academy is there for all to see.
The level of maturity that the girl’s have attained over the period in terms of their character, educational excellence and football development is evident for all to see.
RtD Head of Pastoral Care for Girls, Eileen Hewlett, reflected on the first year of the girls’ academy by stating that the girls have a clear focus of what they want to achieve in life now.
‘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 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.’
Eileen Hewlett reflected on the backgrounds of the RtD girls,
‘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 also developing strong self-disciplined characters.’
Like their male counterparts, the girls have had to combine their school education with their football training. The girls’ team had its first taste of competitive football action when RtD took part in the MTG United For Peace Cup regional qualifiers in Ghana last year.
Such is the talent of the young girls that it came as no surprise to many when two Academy girls gained national call-ups, just nine months after the establishment of the Academy.
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