Warning: getimagesize(https://cdn.ghanaweb.com/imagelib/src/): failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden in /data/www/africaweb/utils2/article.engine.build.php on line 93
RtD Girls’ Academy marks one-year anniversary
You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2014 06 12Article 312498

Sports Features of Thursday, 12 June 2014

Source: Sammy Heywood Okine

RtD Girls’ Academy marks one-year anniversary

When nine, young intelligent girls were handed five-year scholarships 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 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.
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 has started re-shaping 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.
One cannot help observe the maturity the girl’s have attained over the period in terms of their character, educational excellence and football development.
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 through this 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 these 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.
Fuseina Mumuni and Louisa Essuman were handed call-ups to the female National U-17 team in March, after impressing the national team handlers during a friendly game.
Fusiena went on to make history becoming the first RtD player to represent Ghana at a Fifa World Cup tournament, and also claiming the accolade as the youngest player at the tournament in Costa Rica.
Commenting on her World Cup experience, Fuseina Mumuni said: “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.
Being the youngest squad member came with a lot of attention, especially from both the international media and the local media.
“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.”
The Wa born player was also quick to note that she and her colleagues at RtD are in a privileged position by virtue of being at the academy and therefore have high standards to live up to.
“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.”
In March 2014, the RtD Academy received a massive boost following a partnership with Tullow Ghana. The partnership sees Africa’s leading independent oil company invest in Africa’s leading football academy.
Tullow Ghana’s investment is the cornerstone of the company’s agenda for creating shared prosperity through sports.
Bernice Natue, the Communications & Investor Relations Manager of Tullow Ghana, has spent some time with the girls during her visits to the Academy, and gave her impressions on the girls:
“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 said the importance of programmes like the RtD girls, in progressing gender equality in Ghana, cannot be over emphasised.
“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.

Join our Newsletter