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From Aberdeen to Ghana | AFC Youth Coach Set to Jet Off To Elite Academy

September 13, 2018 1:52 pm Author: AFC Media Team

 

An AFC Academy coach is swapping Pittodrie to take on an ambitious new position at an elite football academy in Ghana. Cameron Campbell, from Lossiemouth has been working as a coach for the Aberdeen U13’s side for the past two seasons, although first became involved with the academy as an intern four years ago. Now a new challenge has presented itself to Cameron and he will move to Ghana to join the prestigious “Right To Dream” – an academy that specialises in developing young boys and girls into professional footballers as well as providing them with a full education scholarship.

Right to Dream were founded by English young coach Tom Vernon in 1999 and he grew the company from a dust pitch in the city of Accra to opening a state-of-the-art facility in 2009, which allows scholars the opportunity to live, train, play and earn an education at the centre of excellence for African football. The organisation has forged partnerships all over Europe and the United States and in 2016 a group of investors chaired by Vernon purchased FC Nordsjaelland of the Danish Superliga and with it created a direct link between the academy and the club. The ethos of the club is centred on youth development which couldn’t be more evident with the first team squad having an average age of 22 years old. Also a  worthy note is 15 of their 18-man squad in a recent match were academy graduates, including a number from Africa.

Cameron explained “The kids join the academy from ten or eleven years old and are given a proper education right through to the age of 15 with a guaranteed five-year contract. Right To Dream play in all of the major youth tournaments across Europe and then made the transition into developing a pathway into senior football. That’s where FC Nordsjaelland came in and they now run two identical academies with one in Ghana and one in Denmark. The purpose is to get as many of the academy players developing into first team players so it’s similar to how academies in Scotland work in that regard.”

Cameron will fly to Ghana at the start of October to head the organisations lower academy sides, which will include overseeing four ages groups. It’s a step up in responsibility from his soon to be former role at Aberdeen, but Cameron is excited by the opportunity to coach abroad and was also quick to praise his colleagues at Pittodrie for their help in making the move possible. “My aim has always been to get a full-time position somewhere in football and in Scotland unfortunately there’s not many jobs there. I must say the club have been excellent in supporting me with this dream. They have put me through my coaching badges and made sure I’m as developed as I can be and through meeting other coaches the opportunity at Right To Dream came up.

“Gavin Levey and Neil Simpson have both been excellent with me. I told them when I was first approached, and they have been great giving me different pieces of advice. Even in preparing for the interview itself they were excellent, which I’d imagine a lot of employers won’t do because they don’t want to see you go. Both Gavin and Neil couldn’t have done anymore to help give me the best possible chance to make this transition.”

The organisation has been prominent in the elite academy competitions over the years and famously won the Gothia Cup in Gothenburg back to back – a tournament in which the AFC youth academy regularly compete in. Due to a lack of opposition in Ghana, Right To Dream coaches often bring their teams to compete against other elite European sides, which will allow Cameron the opportunity to help build contacts across the continent.

“I’ll be mainly based in Ghana but because the links in Europe are so strong I’ll be travelling to Denmark, while the kids from Denmark also go in the opposite direction. This allows full integration for the players and by the time they hit the age of 16/17 and are on the verge of the first team they already know each other. I’m looking forward to not only spending time in Ghana and at the tournaments, but also in Denmark.

“I’ve been really lucky to experience youth tournaments at Aberdeen and I’m looking forward to going out with new groups of players. Character development is huge for the kids and it’s as important as the football education alongside the academics. There are different pathways to developing players and I’m looking forward to being part of that. Right To Dream offer different types of scholarships that aren’t always based on football and these can lead to opportunities in the US.”

With the plans for the training facilities now in place the club are continuing to be a driving force of academy football in the country. In Scotland senior clubs rarely play competitive football at younger age groups and Cameron praised Aberdeen’s ambitions to continue to compete in elite academy competition on the continent as well as preparing for the move to the site at Kingsford. “If I’m honest I don’t think we don’t play enough competitive game, so Aberdeen are seeking those opportunities to go to Germany, Holland and Sweden to name a few. The coaches at the Right To Dream academy have been doing the same with their squads and we’ve found it to be so invaluable to the players and staff in bringing success to the academy.”

Good luck for the future Cameron and we look forward to hopefully facing one of your sides in future tournaments.

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