Young Emirati football players are among the rising stars at the Dubai Schools Cup, the Emirate’s official schools football tournament, which is entering the Round of 16 stages on Saturday 28th February.
Commenting on the Cup, which is a partnership between Dubai Sports Council and Inspiratus, Abdulla Mohammad Shahdad, Manager of School Sports at Dubai Sports Council said: “The Dubai Schools Football Cup is championing the development of talented football players and we are particularly pleased to have a growing number of young Emiratis among them this year and we are confident we will see several of them become professional players on the national football team!”
With participation from over 2,000 students and 55 public and private schools all across Dubai, the Cup is creating a unique platform for nurturing football talent among young athletes of the UAE including a growing number of UAE Nationals.
Playing for the boys U14 category, Obaid Eid Obaid Salem from Rashid Bin Saeed School, is one of the tournament’s most accomplished athletes. Obaid’s effortless football pace has helped his team secure the top spot in their group and a place in the Round of 16 this Saturday.
Each Saturday Obaid and his teammates make the two-hour trip from Hatta to Dubai for the opportunity to take part in the Dubai Schools Cup.
When asked how he feels about the Cup, Obaid said, “The matches have been challenging and there are some strong players on the other teams. I feel like I am playing at the same professional level as I do with the National team at this tournament; it’s very exciting and challenging,” said Obaid who also plays for the UAE Youth National team.
Returning champions from Dubai National School Al Barsha are a true force to be reckoned with. With all three teams U16, U14 and U12 boys making it to the Round of 16 they are sure to create a team legacy this year.
Abdulla Al Shamsi was one of the key players who contributed to Dubai National School Al Barsha earning first place last year. He is playing this year in the boys U14 category and is looking forward to the Round of 16.
Talking about his experience this year Abdullah said “We train together two or three times a week and we always put in 100% so that if we win or lose we know that we played our best. I am very happy we have made it to the next stages of the tournament. However, I believe what has enabled us to win so far is our collaborative spirit. If we continue to play this well, I am confident we will make it to the finals.”
Collaboration is one of the key leadership values at the heart of the Cup and which stems from the vision of DSC and Inspiratus. Hussein Murad, CEO Inspiratus, said "Giving students the exposure to the professional quality of play we are witnessing at the Dubai Schools Cup year on year was one of the driving forces behind the tournament and we are delighted with the growing turn out of Emirati students this year.”
Al Shafie Model School back for a second year has demonstrated dynamic speed of play and commitment to improvement leading them to the knockout stages of the Cup and an opportunity to become the champions.
Young UAE player Matar Majid Matar Al Mehairi said, “This tournament has been a great experience for our team. We have worked hard and I am pleased that our teams have made it to the Round of 16 with so many other Emirati players participating in the tournament, I hope through this Cup our passion for football takes us to the next level so that one day we play for the UAE”.
Emirati girls have impressed spectators week on week with their infectious enthusiasm and love of the game. The young girls from Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein Public School are back this year with the experience gained from the first edition of the tournament under their belts. They have secured their places in the ‘Round of 16’ where they hope to make their school proud.
Speaking after their match, the team spokesperson said, “There aren’t many football tournaments in Dubai for girls and finally we have the Dubai Schools Cup which is a great tournament. This year there are so many more girls teams and the matches are very challenging and every week we have to improve to stay in the game. I am very proud to be playing here as an Emirati.”
As the knock-out stages commence this Saturday the 28th February, the young girls and boys from Emirati schools will be joining counterparts from over 50 countries giving it their all in the hopes of progressing to the next round of the tournament and the once in a lifetime opportunity of traveling to Manchester United to watch a premier league match and being trained by Manchester United coaches courtesy of cup sponsors Chevrolet.