Right to Dream Inspires


Izhaar Rosa '22

Nuhu plays on the Boys Varsity Soccer team.

The Right to Dream Academy is a student soccer program that inspires and develops young soccer players while providing them with opportunities to succeed. The program is based in Accra, Ghana and was founded in 1999 by Tom Vernon. Although it is a soccer academy, its core values and selection process focus on traits such as cognitive ability, character development, and spirit.  Hotchkiss has several current students—Fati Salifu ’22, Mohammed Nuhu ’23, and Emmanuela Frimpoma ’24—who are alumni of the Right to Dream program. Additionally,  teachers Ms. Letty Roberts, instructor in mathematics, and Mr. William Boscow, associate director of admissions, have spent time working directly with the program as educators. Nicky Downs ’15, son of Ms. Roberts, first connected with the Right to Dream program in 2007 with the admission of James “C” Nortey ’11. Once the program recommends a student, applicants undergo the same Hotchkiss admission process  as other prospective students. Boscow said, “We know that every student the Right to Dream program recommends to us is going to be an impactful athlete here, but we also want to make sure that they will be able to find success in the classroom and within the community in general.”

Another important factor of admissions is the program’s recent focus on gender equality. The Right to Dream girls program was first introduced in 2013, launching the school’s practice of alternating between boys and girls in selection for the scholarship.  Salifu said, “In Ghana, the dominance of men over women is so severe that sometimes people like me will probably never get to share their opinions. Through Right to Dream, I have overcome that and I am so grateful I can use my voice, unlike most girls in Ghana.”

The Right to Dream admission process is highly selective and invites around 25,000 recruits every year. Applicants to the program undergo multiple elimination rounds against other players from across West Africa. As part of the program’s emphasis on holistic admission, each player completes a cognitive ability test requiring logical reasoning and problem solving skills.  The test does not rely on previous knowledge to help minimize the educational gap between students in West Africa. Reflecting on her initial reaction to being chosen, Salifu said, “When they picked me, I wondered if they saw something in me that they didn’t see in other kids because there were so many talented kids to choose from. The scholarship only picks five each year from West Africa, so it gets competitive.”

The Right To Dream program has had a profound impact on different alumni. Five years of training in the program was invaluable for Nuhu, who is now a captain of the Boys Varsity Soccer team. Influenced by the passion and drive of his coaches and teammates, Nuhu developed a purpose-driven mindset that has carried into his educational career, and eventually into a professional career. As the first student in his town to attend a school like Hotchkiss in the United States, Nuhu feels inspired to teach soccer to kids in his local community. He said, “Being in the program for an extensive time allows for so many opportunities to push your own boundaries, inspire student athletes, and eventually, return to help players that didn’t have the same chances as you.”

The Right to Dream program continues to impact kids from all around the world, granting opportunities and changing lives.