File Photo: The CEO and the founder of Right to Dream Group Tom Vernon.
The Right to Dream (RTD), a globally famed football academy, entered the Egyptian market through partnership with Egypt’s Mansour Group, a family-owned conglomerate, as a new investment in the sports arena in Egypt.
Under the partnership, a new entity “Man Sports” is being established, which will assume majority control of RTD Group with Tom Vernon, the CEO, remaining the other significant shareholder, while Mohamed Mansour, the founder and chairman of Man Capital, becomes chairman of the board of RTD Group.
In an interview, Vernon talked with Ahram Online about the new investment and the reasons that drove him to enter the Egyptian market as well as the total investments that the new partnership will pump into Egypt.
For 20 years, RTD has been using sports and education to make a positive social impact, especially on children.
Ahram Online: What are the key objectives of RTD to invest in sports talents?
Tom Vernon: RTD’s main objective is to build an opportunity eco-system that operates winning football teams and develops socially-focused, purpose-driven football leaders. Our purpose is to redefine the world’s perception of excellence through football by enhancing and expanding our club and academy network and building our brand with a view to increase our direct impact on young footballers and inspire others to replicate our approach globally.
AO: What are your recently announced investments in cooperation with Mansour Group?
TV: The Mansour family has always been football fans; Mr. Mohamed Mansour’s late uncle Mustafa Kamel Mansour represented Egypt as a goalkeeper at the 1934 World Cup in Italy. The family is also extremely passionate about giving back to the communities they serve.
RTD and the Mansour family have been collaborating since 2013 when they first helped us with the construction of our academy in Ghana, and over the years, we have built a strong partnership based on trust and respect, with common values as a driving force.
The group appreciated the purpose of football for a good cause, and as RTD serves as an exemplary model for that, it made perfect sense for the group to make the decision to invest in it.
RTD really focuses on helping talented youth and Man Capital (the investment arm of Mansour Group) was enthusiastic about the opportunity to help this organisation grow in impact and reach.
The main aspiration of this partnership is to help shape Egypt’s youth through focusing on education and sports, so they can become well-rounded with a socially responsible attitude and can essentially contribute to the advancement and development of their country.
AO: What are the main reasons behind embarking on a new investment in the Egyptian market?
TV: There is no question about the amount and quality of talent present in the Egyptian youth. The partnership sees the establishment of a RTD training academy in Egypt offering top quality facilities and experienced coaches and people to help these talented youth develop in the sport and academically, so they can in turn set an example and represent their communities and country as change-makers.
With the vision to be the best academy in North Africa, the academy will offer a system of opportunities to talented Egyptian children through football, education, and character development. The partnership also sees the establishment of a platform that will help these players be discovered. It has a partnership with leading high schools, colleges and universities in several countries that will provide opportunities for young players to get scholarships.
Egypt is a great market for our purpose-driven model, where our main aim is to unlock the talented youths’ potential while asking for nothing but their trust and hard work in return. Dissimilar to other academies in Egypt, RTD does not follow a “pay-to-play” approach, where members pay to be part of the academy. That is why a lot of emphasis is placed on the scouting and recruiting process, as we handpick every child that we believe has the talent and drive to excel. RTD offers the support and environment required to take the player to the next level professionally and academically.
AO: What is the total investment allocated for your business in Egypt?
TV: Part of Mansour Group’s €100 million investment is going towards setting up the academy in Egypt (about €30 million), and finding the local talents to invest in. The investment in Egypt also includes establishing a women’s football team to compete in the national women’s league and ultimately contribute to the betterment of the local women’s league.
AO: How do you view the sports, particularly football, business environment in Egypt?
TV: Football is one of the most important sports in Egyptian culture – cherished by many and played by many. It is the game that brings people together from an early age. It builds character and develops competitiveness. Rivalries are created between friends and family with the ultimate goal of scoring goals and winning games. The business environment of the sport is not any different, and it is a very promising one. There is an abundance of local talent to invest in – and investing in talented youth is a major cornerstone of RTD’s purpose.
AO: What are your plans for the African market?
TV: Currently, with regards to expanding in Africa, RTD’s focus is on establishing the academy in Egypt along with the women’s football team, which is set to participate in the Egyptian national league. We are also focusing on continuing the work being done in the academy in Ghana and hopefully taking our success and expanding across the region. Our dream is to essentially impact the lives of as many talented youth as we can, unlocking the physical and psychological barriers for children to achieve their dreams. In return, they will become driving forces in their communities, ultimately benefiting their countries.