One of the most prolific forces in world youth football is set to light up the Dale Farm Milk Cup next month.
The Ghana-based “Right to Dream” Academy have quite simply taken Europe by storm this summer.
Their junior side rubbed shoulders with some of the best professional clubs and triumphed at the Marveld Tournament in the Netherlands, beating Arsenal 4-0 in the final.
And their Premier representatives have just returned from a European tour with 14 victories in as many games. Both will be competing at the Northern Ireland tournament across the North East.
“To say that Right to Dream are a world class outfit is most definitely an understatement,” insists Dale Farm Milk Cup chairman Victor Leonard.
“We are always striving to secure entries of the highest quality across the globe and there is absolutely no doubt Right to Dream are up there with the very best professional clubs anywhere on the planet.”
The Academy exists to provide young, talented Africans with the opportunity to fulfil their potential and the capacity to claim a better future for their communities and country.
Right to Dream Africa is a purpose-built, fully-residential academy located on the banks of the River Volta in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Across Europe, RTD graduates are playing in the French, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian leagues.
Some of their graduates are established internationals while Ghana’s former U-17 captain Thomas Agyepong signed for Manchester City this year. Three up and coming players, Emmanuel Ntim, Yaw Yeboah and Kingsley Fobi have made Ghana’s final 21-man squad for the upcoming FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The elite Marveld tournament in Groenlo, Netherland, featured 12 of the top U-15 Academy teams from around the globe. Right to Dream (RTD) finished top of their group with victories over Manchester United, PSV and Feyenoord. They went on to beat Ajax on penalties before demolishing Arsenal in the final and becoming the first ever winners from Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The competition also featured Ajax, Paris Saint-Germain, Feyenoord, Barcelona and Dynamo Moscow. So it is obvious that RTD are more than comfortable competing against the very best Europe has to offer,” says Victor.
The RTD U-18s eight-week tour to the UK and Portugal included games against Benfica and Chelsea. Last year their U-17s won the Gothia Cup in Sweden and the U-15s finished fourth in the world finals of the Premier Cup in Manchester, accumulating over 20 victories along the way.
“People here 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,” says Victor.
“We have talent from all five continents represented at the Dale Farm Milk Cup this summer including Mexico’s Club America whose seniors are playing Manchester United next month in the opening game of their summer tour in Seattle. The fact United have agreed that fixture is proof of the pedigree of the Central American outfit.”
The draw for the Dale Farm Milk Cup takes place in W5 at the Odyssey in Belfast on Wednesday, June 24. The 33rd tournament begins with the traditional parade of competing teams through Coleraine on Sunday, July 26, concluding with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, July 31.
In addition to the title sponsors, the Dale Farm Milk Cup is supported by the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, DCAL, Mitre and The Beautiful Game, with BBC Sport NI as broadcast partners.