Everton have signed a deal with Ghanaian side Ridge City, who become the first women’s team to join the Premier League outfit’s International Academy Affiliate Programme (EIAAP).
The Accra-based club, who only formed four years ago, are also the first African club to join Everton’s EIAAP, which was set up to “expand the knowledge and expertise of Everton’s player development processes to affiliated clubs across the world”.
Ridge City have already been promoted the Ghanaian Premier League in only their third season, as champions of Division One.
“We have been looking for an opportunity like this for a long time,” said Cleopatra Nsiah Nketiah, chief executive of Ridge City.
“The most important thing for us is that women in Ghana are serious about playing football.
“Our relationship with Everton will help us on that pathway and let our people know that in Ghana you can play football and that there can be a career path, perhaps even having a chance to travel to the UK and trial there.
“The environment and resources Everton can provide is a huge pull and the opportunity to have online coaching programmes to follow, and even potential visits by their coaches, is another real positive that we can tap into, to help our women feel that they are part of something bigger.”
Part of the initiative, which already has affiliates in USA, Canada, South America, Australia and Ireland, will see coaches from Ridge City gain access to Everton’s Finch Farm complex which is the base for the club’s senior men’s, women’s and academy teams.
Everton said in a statement: “The EIAAP initiative provides clubs, at all tiers of the game, with access to the finest coaching knowledge from Everton’s renowned academy to support with growth – a level of support that sets it apart from more traditional models.
“These include: A holistic approach to player, coach and club development, offering technical support from Everton’s Finch Farm training complex and business and marketing support.”