This Thursday, Nov. 11, 2023, San Diego FC officially broke ground on their new “Right To Dream” academy on the Sycuan reservation in El Cajon. This was a historic moment in San Diego Sports history, as the newest MLS franchise will help jump start several young players’ careers with this facility.
San Diego FC Chairman Mohamed Mansour, Vice-Chairman Cody Martinez, Founding partner Manny Machado, and MLS commissioner Don Garber were all present at the event. Unfortunately, Right To Dream Founder and CEO Tom Vernon was not able to attend the event due to illness.
Right To Dream already has facilities in Ghana, Denmark, and Egypt, but this will be the first academy of its kind in North America. All facilities have already worked together to help youngsters launch soccer careers and even attend top universities around the world.
The Right To Dream Academy will take up 125,000 square feet of land, with the sports performance facility taking up 50,000 square feet. Right To Dream has helped players get to the very elite of soccer, with players like Mohammed Kudus and Mikkel Damsgaard reaching the English Premier League out of the academy, which is considered by many the best soccer league in the world.
Mohamed Mansour mentioned that he wants “young Californians, young Native Americans, young Mexicans to try out.” Right To Dream wants everyone to give it a try and wants to explore this untapped market in South California that has been producing soccer talent across the country for years.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber talked about this region, “It’s totally untapped because we haven’t had a professional environment in MLS to develop those players. Think about what MLS was 20 years ago without development academies. Those kids played in nonprofessional environments. If they were good, they had to go overseas. Now we have hundreds of homegrown players that come up through our academies, and now we’re playing for our second teams and first teams, and dozens are playing at very high levels around the world. It’s gonna be special. This is a hotbed for soccer and football. Imagine what it’s going to look like in five years.”
The Kumeyaay Nation has been heavily involved with not only the facility but San Diego FC, with the Vice-Chairman of the team being Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez. The event included a traditional bird song performance by members of the Kumeyaay Nation, which was one of the day’s highlights.
Cody Martinez talked about the significance of this facility to the Native American population, “We had some singers here for this morning’s cultural ceremony that are representatives from other tribes. Sycuan has always been a leader in San Diego amongst tribal nations. They are very proud to support tribes, to support Sycuan because we know that there’s going to be benefits out of this opportunity that’s gonna be spread across all tribes. All of the Kumeyaay Nation, especially all our tribes here in San Diego County.
San Diego FC has done a fantastic job at inclusion amongst several cultures across San Diego, and there does not seem to be any halt to this. The event represented a monumental project that will help several young people achieve their dreams within San Diego County and beyond.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.