The President of the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) has renewed his call to focus on the grassroots to elevate the standard of football in the country.
Speaking to Gulf News at the conclusion of the Seventh Hamdan Bin Mohammad U17 International Football Tournament last weekend, Marwan Bin Galita, President, UAE FA, insisted that sustained efforts at the grassroots was the ideal way forward for football in any country.
This was the seventh edition of the annual under-17 competition that has foreign teams participating against junior teams from Dubai clubs each year. This year Al Ahli, Al Nasr, Al Wasl and Dubai Club were the four teams invited to play alongside AS Roma, Borussia Dortmund, Olympique Lyon and defending champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia. Olympique Lyon defeated defending champions Al Hilal 2-1 to win the title, while Borussia Dortmund got the better of AS Roma 3-1 for the third place.
“Our profound gratitude to the Dubai Sports Council for organising such junior competitions as it is tournaments like these that will help us develop our youngsters to serve the national teams in the future,” Bin Galita told Gulf News.
“I feel that a tournament of this stature is an ideal launchpad for our young players to experience first-hand various styles of football from across the world. The Dubai Sports Council is playing a great role in assisting in the development of the game at the grassroots and we it would be more than helpful if we have some others stepping forward and organising similar tournaments,” he added.
Bin Galita further confided that youngsters from the UAE stood to gain tremendously in their tactical and technical dissemination of the game. “The 17-18 years age group is crucial as these will be the stars of tomorrow for club and country, and the more exposure we give them the better it will be for the development of the sport in the country,” Bin Galita said.
“The academies at the clubs have been doing a lot of good work and tournaments like these will put their dedication on display. The visiting teams from Europe definitely have a high standard, so the experience for our youngsters can only be huge,” he added.
“What we need now is a lot of patience as the benefits of this competition will only be seen in the long run, and over a period of time. The biggest beneficiary will be our national team as these youngsters stars in the making and we now need to allow them to bloom,” Bin Galita added.