Right to Dream Academy, a football academy located on the banks of the River Volta in the Eastern Region of Ghana and affiliated to English giants Manchester City, have been given excessive access to Ghana’s U17 national team by the Ghana Football Association and they are using it to exploit young Ghanaian footballers and their families.
In a documented conversation a top official of RtD Academy Joe Mulberry branded the Ghana Football Association as corrupt but years after the two bodies have signed an MoU for mutual interests and benefits.
In a recorded telephone conversation Right to Dream Academy top official Gareth Henderby is heard clearly dictating to the family leader of a hugely talented youngster – Kelvin Ofori, that he needs to extend his contract with the academy before he would be included in Ghana’s final squad for the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup which will take place in India next month.
Henderby, a British national married to a Ghanaian and has stayed in the West African country for 17 years, insisted the Ghana Football Association has empowered RtD with an MoU which means any player from the academy who refuses to extend his contract with the Akosombo-based football talent nursing hub will not be selected to be part of the Black Starlets’ squad no matter how talented you.
Chairman of Ghana National U17 Team Management Committee Kwaku Eyiah has denied on Accra-based radio station station there is contract between the GFA and RtD but Ghana Sports Online has obtained copies of the contract and alleged WhatsApp message sent to RtD owner Tom Vernon giving him ultimatum to finalise their contractual issues with two players (Kudus Mohammed and Kelvin Ofori) or would not be part of the squad for the tournament.
Ghana Sports Online can authoritatively confirm that the two players have been excluded from the preliminary squad that has been submitted to FIFA because they refused to extend their contracts with Right to Dream Academy. In addition to that we have also obtained copies of the MoU between the GFA and Right to Dream Academy.
We are also investigating details of an email exchanged between Tom Vernon and another official of RtD Joe Mulberry which suggests the setting up of another company by Mr Mulberry and payment of onshore and offshore salaries to beat the system in payment of taxes. A former RtD insider and an ex-academy graduate has also mentioned that RtD is registered in Ghana as an NGO, something Ghana Sports Online is actively investigating to bring out the exact details. A claim that Manchester City annually pay RtD Academy £2 million in NGO payout cannot be independently confirmed.
Ghana Sports Online has interviewed three (3) former Academy graduates who have shared their distress accounts at the academy but because they are minors their names cannot be put out.
“What goes on in the academy is crazy but anyone outside will be like wow these boys are enjoying but they don’t know what the hell the boys are going through. So imagine they collected our bonuses from national team, of you think of what they will do to they’re players if they sign for a club,” the source, whose named is withheld, revealed.
“One player I won’t mention his name. He signed for a club they took all his money, how’s he going to survive in a country that he doesn’t know anyone,” the source said.
“If they’re saying RtD is an NGO, which means there’s no way you going to get bunch of money,” he added.
Chicago Fire attacker David Accam, who is also a graduate from the Right to Dream Academy, has jumped to the defence of his former team but says he doesn’t agree with some of their policies as well.
“I agree certain policies they have is not right but [you] can’t tell me a lot of kids are not benefiting firm RtD. And [,] they don’t take any professional player[‘] salary,” the former Helsingborg IF player said.
Of course they make money when they sell players but the money is normally to sustain the academy and more kids joining. Don’t listen to one side and conclude,” the Ghana international concluded.
Though it is not permitted to sign long-term contracts with U18 Gareth Henderby told Ghana Sports Online his outfit always keeps the GFA in copy.
“All our contracts are lodged at the GFA as per regulations,” he said.
Per FIFA regulations and Ghana laws a minor cannot be contracted for job or work of any kind unless parental or guardian involvement.
In a proper jurisdiction where football bigwigs and national thinkers are concerns with the future of young talents and football development they will not entertain this MoU in any face or form.
Ghana simply stands to lose from the GFA’s connivance with the Englishmen.
What this means is that Ghana cannot benefit from any talented footballer at RtD Academy if the young footballer just like Kelvin Ofori decides not to sign either a fresh contract or an extension with them. No matter how gracefully talented and potentially gifted Ofori is and can help Ghana win the ultimate in India the GFA has agreed to exclude him because his family rejected the new contract proposal.
This is yet another clearest indication that this is not a football leadership that wants the best for the development of Ghana football and the young Ghanaian player. It adds to the various allegations of corruption, nepotism, clienteleship, favouritism and poor foresight that has bedeviled Ghana football administration under Kwesi Nyantakyi.
In its expansive sense it means in the future talented Ghanaian children in the hinterlands with hopes of representing the country at various youth levels would be gagged because they the GFA has shifted all its focus to players at RtD Academy.
Lastly The chairman of the Ghana U17 national team management committee, Kwaku Eyiah, is a legal practitioner as well as the Ghana FA President. And, the GFA has a legal body if the GFA insist that the MoU in circulation is fake then they should have the testicular fortitude to take on RtD Academy in a competent court of law.
Ghana football is dying!
By El Akyereko
Follow on Twitter: @AkwasiAkyereko