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Milk Cup: Academy helps boys develop more than football skills


Gareth Henderby will be hoping his side can do the business

Gareth Henderby will be hoping his side can do the business

Gareth Henderby will be hoping his side can do the business

The main man behind Ghana academy Right to Dream has has jetted into Northern Ireland in the hope of watching his players make history at this week's Dale Farm Milk Cup.

Gareth Henderby, the Academy's technical director, arrived on Saturday, is looking forward to a first for his globe-trotting success-hungry young stars.

"It has been a great summer for the Academy already," he says.

"There have been winning performances so often and our recent wins in Manchester and Sweden have been a source of inspiration for all our players.

"We have a young squad so we will be looking to ensure that they make the most of the experience for their football development".

Right to Dream is a residential academy based in Ghana that seeks to discover and nurture role models through education, sport and character development. Right to Dream exists to enable talented, underprivileged children from all over West Africa with the opportunity to develop their talent and fulfill their potential.

And the newcomers to the Dale Farm Milk Cup are being tipped to become the first outfit to land the double in the 33-year history of the tournament.

Crewe Alexandra, Middlesbrough, West Ham United and Manchester City have all come close to achieving success in concurrent Premier and Junior competitions.

In 1987, Crewe beat Liverpool in the Premier final but their Juniors lost out to Hibernian. 'Boro defeated Manchester United in the Premier showdown in 1997 only to lose to West Ham in the Junior showpiece.

The Hammers went down to Chile in the Premier age group in 1998 and their Juniors, with Liam Ridgewell, Kieron Richardson and Anton Ferdinand all on board, fell to Crewe who included Dean Ashton in their ranks.

The last time a club featured in both deciders was at the beginning of the century when Manchester City suffered double heartbreak, failing at the final hurdle against Turkey (Premier) and Charlton Athletic (Junior).

Bradley-Wright Phillips was a member of the City Junior squad and the Republic of Ireland's Stoke City midfielder Glenn Whelan was in the City Premier side.

"It's a tough challenge but by all accounts the Right to Dream squads are world class," says the tournament secretary and founding father Jim Weir.

"We have charted their progress over the past couple of years and it has been impressive. I reckon our supporters are in for a treat this year in both age groups."

The Junior title has been won by overseas teams only six times in 30 years.

Twelve months ago, SC Corinthians from Brazil triumphed against County Antrim. Before that it was Mexico's Guadalajara (2000), Danish side Lyngby Boldklub (2005), Israel's Maccabi Haifa (2004), Racing Club of Argentina (2003) and Slovakia's national squad (1993).

Mexican newcomers Zacatepec will hope to emulate Guadalajara's success but they face a test against Southampton in their opening game at Rugby Avenue this afternoon.

Meanwhile, with six-time winner Everton's failure to return for the first time in some years, the door is wide open. The Toffees had only missed out on the final twice in the past seven years and County Antrim, beaten finalists in 2014 and 2013, will be hoping to go one better this time.

Belfast Telegraph