Al Ain Club’s triumphant 3-2 on penalties grand final win over the tenacious Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence has seen them crowned as the region’s first ever Volkswagen Junior Masters Soccer Tournament Champions, at the inaugural Middle East Volkswagen Junior Masters Soccer Tournament played in Dubai on Saturday 3 April.The Volkswagen Junior Masters Soccer Tournament Middle East Champions - Al Ain Club - will now fly to Madrid, Spain, to represent the UAE and the Middle East for the first time at the Volkswagen Junior Masters World Finals from 5 to 10 May 2010.Held at The Jebel Ali Shooting Club and Center of Excellence, with the support of the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA), 240 players in 15 teams from across the Emirates vied for the top spot, amid a carnival atmosphere provided by friends, family, media, and VIPs cheering them on.Taking a moment from cheering with the fans on the tournament sidelines, Stefan Mecha, Managing Director of Volkswagen Middle East, said, “Hosting the tournament for the first time in the region has been a real treat for Volkswagen Middle East. We wanted to ensure the best-of-the-best were represented at Volkswagen Junior Masters World Finals in Madrid this year, and UAEFA picked an outstanding selection of squads.“Every single team displayed phenomenal levels of skill and sportsmanship today. If the standard of play in the UAE is representative of the ten countries Volkswagen Middle East plans to expand the tournament to next year - including the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, KSA, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Syria and Yemen – then I think the region is set to become a real international tour-de-force.”The one day tournament was played in a ‘round-robin’ format, with each team consisting of 11 players and five substitutes. All matches were conducted by UAEFA referees according to FIFA rules.HE Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, President of the United Arab Emirates Football Association, said, “This tournament has helped highlight the Middle East’s youth as a formidable new contender in one of the world’s largest football tournaments for children no older than 13 years of age. I think Al Ain Club, the Volkswagen Junior Masters Middle East Champions, are really going to give the other 18 teams a run for their money in Spain next month.”In addition to being crowned Volkswagen Junior Masters Middle East Champions, the Al Ain squad were presented with Lufthansa tickets to Madrid, courtesy of Volkswagen Middle East and sponsors Lufthansa German Airlines, and will receive the recently launched new Powercat 1.10 boot by sponsors and leading Sportlifestyle Company PUMA. Commenting on the event, Peter Pollak, General Manager UAE and Director Gulf, Lufthansa German Airlines said, “At Lufthansa we are excited to be part of the Volkswagen Junior Masters Middle East, a sports event which supports intercultural understanding among children living in the UAE.
“The sports event is perfectly compatible with Lufthansa’s focus on families and children, which manifests itself in our ‘Miles and More family programme’ or the Jetfriends website, which is designed for our young fans under the age of 18.”Trophies and medals as well as gifts from young fashion brand New Yorker were awarded to the Volkswagen Junior Masters Middle East Soccer Tournament runners-up – Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence – and third place team – Sharjah Club.The participating teams were: Al Baniyas Club and Al Jazira Club from Abu Dhabi; Al Shabab Club, Dubai College, Our Own English High School Al Warqa, Dubai Schools Team, German Soccer Club, Indian High School, Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence, Our Own High School and Westminster School from Dubai; Sharjah Football Club from Sharjah; Al Ain Club and Our Own English High School from Al Ain; and Al Rams Club from Ras Al Khaimah.PUMA provided the official kit to all participating teams, with all matches played using the new Powercat ball.