Oman’s ace goalkeeper Ali al Habsi has launched a football school in Ma’abela. “It’s a dream come true,” said Ali, the national team captain on the occasion of the unofficial opening of the Al Habsi Football School (HFS).
Having felt the need for a football academy while growing up in his hometown Mudhaibi, and then in Muscat, Ali had a long cherished dream of opening a top-class school in Oman supported by professional Omani coaching staff.
Ali said, “This [opening of a football school in Oman] was one of my dreams. I want to put everything in this project and give back to my country my experiences of a long football career.
“Having started my journey in Muscat and then moving to Norway [for club Lyn Oslo], followed by my experiences in England since 2006, I have had the opportunity to work under some of the best managers.”
Ali has played in the English Premier League with Bolton Wanderers and Wigan and featured for English Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion. He has been with another Championship club, Reading, since July 2015.
“I strongly feel that by starting a football school, which later will be transformed into a full-fledged academy, it is the best possible way to give back something to my country,” said the 34 year old goalkeeper. “Of course, it is going to be a long journey. We are yet to officially launch the school. We would like to go step by step. The focus is to provide the best training facilities under top professional coaches.
I would like to have an all-Omani support staff and hope to produce future stars. “The school is open to all nationalities and with my years of experience in Europe, the plan is to have closer cooperation with leading clubs for our boys to gain international exposure. My dream is to watch more Omani footballers play in Europe. Of course, it is not going to be easy as it will require a lot of effort from the players to break through. But, it certainly is possible.”
On what message he would like to give his students, Ali said, “The boys have to train very hard and be eager to learn from their coaches. Also, they have to find a good balance between studies and football to go places.”
The Omani star is expected to make his first visit to the school in March and said that he was “excited and looking forward to meeting future young stars”.
Ali’s brother and national U19 team assistant coach, Abdulaziz al Habsi, has been appointed as the head coach with Nasser al Mashari and Musaab al Dhamri making up the coaching staff.
Abdulaziz has several years of coaching experience with youth teams. He has also worked with Mudhaibi, Seeb and Bahla clubs.
Another of Ali’s siblings, Suleiman al Habsi, will manage HFS. Suleiman said, “We have got an encouraging response with more than 70 children already registering. There will be groups for eight-ten years, 11-12 years and 13-15 years and we aim to have no more than 35 trainees in each group.”
Suleiman said that the school “will have a total of ten classes in a month and the first season will be spread over four months”.
“The fee for the first season comes to RO120. For us, the primary aim is to develop talented players who can go on to represent Oman and play in Europe,” said Suleiman.
It is Ali’s dream project and we will ensure that it is run in the best possible manner. The children have been provided training kits, except boots.
We have also provided them with the latest coaching tools. We have plans to open branches in Muscat in the coming months. We have not finalised plans for the official launch of HFS. But, it would be done in the presence of Ali along with top officials from the Oman Football Association (OFA). We are looking for support from the Ministry of Sports Affairs and OFA. Plans are in place for future expansion and transforming it into a top-level academy.”
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