Michael Tetteh still remembers the radio ad from 11 years ago.
“Right to Dream,” a nonprofit organization, was holding open tryouts for a residential soccer academy in Tetteh’s native country of Ghana. That was music to the ears of a small village boy with aspirations of playing professionally.
But Tetteh had more than just a lofty goal. He had the talent, the work ethic and, perhaps most important, the independent nature to see it through. And after a decade-long journey, one that covered more than 7,500 miles, Tetteh’s age-old dream was realized Thursday when he was selected by Sounders FC with the 20th overall choice in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
On his banner day, Tetteh’s thoughts went back to that memorable advertisement on the radio and the opportunity that followed.
“ ‘Right to Dream’ is the reason why I am here in the States, and I am very grateful for everything that they have done for me,” he said.
Founded by Englishman Tom Vernon, “Right to Dream” was just a fledgling enterprise when Tetteh tried out. The organization is grown and flourishing, providing educational and athletic opportunities for underprivileged children in Africa, but Tetteh remembers the early days when all 18 boys who made the team lived in the same house.
Back then, “Everything we did was about soccer.”
Tetteh got another break six years later when his academy was playing the University of Ghana. Tetteh and a couple teammates caught the eye of an American coach who offered to help with scholarships to the Dunn School in Los Olivos, Calif.
The offer was too good to refuse. But there was a cost.
“I haven’t seen my family in six years,” Tetteh said.