Non-profit Ghanaian Football Academy where I’ve been working for the last couple of months competes with best clubs in the world for 4th year running at the Manchester United Premier Cup Finals.

After qualifying as African Regional Premier Cup Champions, The Right to Dream Academy from Ghana placed 6th this week out of 20 finalists in the world’s largest U15 football tournament.

Scoring 7 goals in their four group matches against FC Metz (France 1-1), FC Bahia (Brazil 0-0), Ulsan Hyundai MS (Korea 3-2) and Cosmos Ac. West (USA 3-2) the academy boys were eventually knocked out in a tight match 1-0 by tournament favourites, Chelsea. The game was watched by amongst others Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Young.

Image: Copyright, Daniel Root Photography LLC

Right to Dream’s record at the Premier Cup Finals is impressive: 2008 (5th), 2009 (7th), 2010 (3rd) & 2011 (6th).

The final stages of the global competition kicked off at Manchester United’s Training Facility at Carrington on Tuesday 2nd August under the watchful eyes of Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton who told the boys from the 20 finalist teams at the opening ceremony:

“I am very proud to welcome you on behalf of NIKE and this great club,” he said. “Play great football, respect your opponents and represent your club and country in the right way. Always aim to be number one; no-one can ever ask any more of you than that, including yourself.”

Right to Dream’s coach James Foxon: “We’re delighted to have reached the quarter finals of course and every team is here to win, but for us it’s also about making sure the boys enjoy themselves, because this sort of opportunity to meet and play against other boys from different continents and different cultures doesn’t come around every day!”

Right to Dream founder and CEO Tom Vernon: “If you consider the histories and reputations of the clubs we’ve competed with at the Premier Cup Finals over the last four years: Chelsea, Manchester United, Boca Juniors, PSV, Barcelona, Valencia, Fenerbahce, etc…we can feel very proud of our achievements in just 10 years. Our success so far has been a result of a strong recruitment strategy and the delivery of a balanced programme of professional training, education and personal development.”

He continued: “Our mission is not just to produce world-class young footballers at Right to Dream but to ensure these student athletes are positive role models for their communities and society. Boys’ football is just the start of our plan to build a world-leading institution full of exceptionally talented, driven and hard-working young Ghanaians.”

About Right to Dream, Ghana

Right to Dream is a professional sports, education and leadership academy in Ghana. Led by Tom Vernon, Right to Dream has been working for the past 13 years to create a world class and unique football academy. Right to Dream offers 100% scholarships to talented, underprivileged children to partake in our unique programme that combines football, education, personal development and leadership training.

Working with youth, the academy nurtures talented industrious individuals into role models and offers first class development opportunities to ensure that our graduates are capable of leading positive and sustainable change in the future. At the core of the academy philosophy is the expectation that all graduates go on to help others achieve their dreams and contribute to the development of their country and continent. To date, over 100 boys have received 5 year scholarships to Right to Dream.

The programme focuses on the development of the total student athlete through 3 key areas; Education, Football and Character Development (personal and leadership development).

$2m has been invested in a purpose built facility providing; training pitches, an international school, boarding accommodation and other ancillary support facilities. 32 graduates are currently studying at leading private boarding schools, universities, colleges in the USA and UK. 10 graduates have signed professional contracts world-wide including EPL and MLS. Mohammed Abu signed last year for Manchester City and is currently playing for Norwegian Cup winners Stromsgodset who recently impressed in the Europa cup matches against Athletico Madrid.

Right to Dream has recently recruited a Paralympian squad to promote talented disabled athletes in Ghana and plans to open a girls’ football programme in 2013.

About Manchester United Premier Cup

MUPC is the ultimate youth football tournament for under-15’s.  An incredible opportunity for over 8,000 teams from all walks of life to live the dream, feel the passion and measure their extraordinary talents against the best of their peers – to find out whether they have what it takes to become THE footballing stars of the future. Tournament matches are played at Carrington annually with the final at  Old Trafford, Manchester United’s ‘Theatre of Dreams’.

Premier Cup was developed by NIKE in 1993 as a grassroots tournament and evolved to become a global celebration of youth football in 2003 when Manchester United added their name to the ultimate competition – and the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) World Finals were born!




For further information, including pictures of Right to Dream at this year’s tournament:


+233 2005 100 72 /


Reports and Photographs:



1st             PACHUCA

2nd             ORLANDO PIRATES

3rd              EC BAHIA

4th              CHELSEA FC

5th              FENERBAHCE

6th              RIGHT TO DREAM

7th              BOCA JUNIORS

8th              VALENCIA CF

9th              PSV EINDHOVEN

10th            UNIVERSIDAD DE CHILE

11th            FC METZ

12th            MANCHESTER UNITED

13th            COSMOS ACADEMY WEST

14th            CATANIA CALCIO

15th            KYOTO SANGA FC

16th            BANGKOK CHRISTIAN C

17th            ULSAN HYUNDAI MS

18th            HANNOVER 96

19th            HUBEI FA

20th               ONEHUNGA SPORTS



Season      Teams      Venue                        Winners

    Manchester United Premier Cup World Champions

2010-11     8,000+  Manchester, England      Pachuca

2009-10     9,470    Manchester, England      Barcelona x 3

2008-09     9,470    Manchester, England      Sao Paulo, Brazil x 2

2007-08     9,470    Manchester, England      Fluminense, Brazil x 1

2006-07     9,061    Manchester, England      FC Barcelona, Spain

2005-06     9,000    Manchester, England      Chivas Guadalajara, Mexico

2004-05     8,010    Hong Kong, China          Fluminense, Brazil

2003-04     7,961    Manchester, England      Manchester City, England

2002-03     7,000    Portland, USA                Corinthians, Brazil

    Nike Premier Cup World Champions

2001-02     6,700    Lisbon, Portugal             São Paulo, Brazil

2000-01     6,195    Berlin, Germany                        Vitoria, Brazil

1999-00     6,000    Amsterdam, Holland      Sport Club Internaçional, Brazil

1998-99     5,795    Barcelona, Spain                       FC Barcelona, Spain

1997-98     3,224    Paris, France                 Athletic Bilbão, Spain

1996-97     2,624    Cape Town, S. Africa     Platense,ArgentinA