The Ministry of Education (MOE), the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) and Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) yesterday hosted a National Festival to mark the end of the inaugural year of "Football in Schools", a program designed to nurture football talents in schools for under 12 category aimed at introducing and promoting football in all government primary schools in the country within three years.
Held in the main stadium/hall in the state-of-the-art Zayed Sports City, 450 students from 55 schools across the UAE enjoyed a day of fun and games and professional training by UAE FA coaches and physical education teachers. The exercises and drills helped harness the children's talents and previous training by providing them with technical and tactical skills.
Abdullah Hassan, Head of Technical Development Department, UAE FA, stressed that the success the program has witnessed demonstrates the appetite for professional training amongst children.
He said: "We are proud to be part of this important initiative. There's no doubt that football enjoys a huge popularity in the UAE, but harnessing and nurturing talents at a young age are prerequisites for making professional footballers that will continue to make the UAE proud. We are looking forward to improving the program over the coming two years with the involvement of other professional sports organizations to reach all government schools in the UAE." Amina Taher, Head of Community Engagement, Mubadala Group Communications, commented: "Mubadala is committed to encouraging young people across the country to keep fit and active. Football is one of the most popular sports in the UAE which makes it a good way to reach young UAE Nationals. By developing young Emiratis' skills and passion for the game we are also encouraging them to lead healthier lifestyles." The three-year long grassroots national project was introduced into schools in September 2011 reaching 8,200 and 94 physical education instructors surpassing initial number of expected participants. As part of the program, Bernard Schumm and Abdullah Hassan, who lead youth training and development at the UAE Football Association, conducted three workshops that included theory and practical classes around the basics of grassroots football and the required skills and techniques for teachers.
Also, the participating schools received the resources required to conduct sessions such as footballs, bibs, cones and mini goals in addition to student diaries and teacher manuals that include information on how to play football, healthy eating tips and fitness advice.