Zayed Sports City: UAE's playground for the world

Zayed Sports City: UAE's playground for the world
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Published September 22nd, 2017 - 12:26 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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The stadium will be hosting matches of 2017 and 2018 Fifa Club World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup. (Photo: Khaleej TImes)
The stadium will be hosting matches of 2017 and 2018 Fifa Club World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup. (Photo: Khaleej TImes)

The Zayed Sports City (ZSC) Stadium is the home of football in the UAE. From hosting the Fifa Club World Cup, Gulf Cup of Nations and AFC Asian Cup, the multi-purpose stadium is the UAE's playground for the world. And, later this year, more headline-grabbing footballing extravaganza is going to continue.

The stadium will be hosting matches of 2017 and 2018 Fifa Club World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup. And there's loads of local football with ZSC Academy's new football programme and on-and-off a President's Cup final is also played at the same venue.

Sharing thoughts on ZSC hosting international football events, general manager Barry Bremner said every day, in a way, the level of excitement is getting bigger and better.

"It's very exciting to host international events and play a role in delivering some of the biggest events in the world."

Such events, Bremner said, boost the country's image, not just Abu Dhabi's.

"There is a certain prestige that comes with hosting international events, and I think it is because these are often selected by a bid process. The venue, city and country collaborate across many industries to present a bid that is reviewed against other strong contenders, and coming out on top reaffirms to the local population and essentially advertises to the international population the value that we offer."

Giving an update on the preparations for the much-awaited 2017 Fifa Club World Cup, Bremner said: "The national stadium has undergone a significant refurbishment over the last 18 months and regulars to the site would have noticed the works which are close to completion. This will provide a more modern experience for thousands of fans. We're also working closely with the Fifa Local Organising Committee to ensure all requirements such a catering, logistics, security, and the other local services are in order. The event promises to be even better than in 2009 and 2010 and we're really excited for it to play out."

The Fifa Club World Cup will run from Dec. 6 to 16 and will see likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in action.

That's not all, the ZSC is also working at the grass root level with activities at the academy.

"Football is one of the most popular sports on the site and things here are quite busy with the sport. Within ZSC Academy, we have the start of our season and are looking to confirm school break camps and some exciting clinics. For the adults, Mubadala Community Football League has returned for its second year and the Fifa Club World Cup will be huge for everyone. Looking ahead to 2018 du Future Champions league and Abu Dhabi Football Cup are marked on the calendar and we expect President's Cup back as well," Bremner said.

And the academy hopes to mint new stars and has achieved certain level of success too, Director of ZSC Academy Sigi Meeuws said.

"We've put a lot of efforts into creating a top-notch football programme with ZSC Academy. We're using the best pitches at Zayed Sports City, including the national stadium, priced ourselves competitively, have invested in brand new equipment and use exciting training aids to support both development and fun. But perhaps most telling of our ability to develop new stars is the strong track record of our Head of Football, Andrew Foley in doing just that. The first Emirati to receive an NCAA Division 1 university soccer scholarship was on his team the year before, and three of his players last season were invited to Arabian Gulf League club academies," Meeuws lists proudly.

The largest stadium in the UAE is not only hosting top-rated events but churning out future Emirati stars too.

By Ashwani Kumar

Copyright © 2017 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.

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