UAE’S FU­TURE CHAMPIONS HEAD FOR SPAIN

Ta­lent scouted dur­ing huge UAE foot­ball event set for Spain trip

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Back @aidy­back

Af­ter 1,215 matches were played and 4,701 goals were scored, the du Foot­ball Champions (duFC) UAE Schools & Streets Cups fi­nally came to an end in March.

Dur­ing that time the per­for­mance of all 7,117 play­ers were be­ing as­sessed by a num­ber of coaches and the best play­ers were iden­ti­fied.

Now the top 20 are about to em­bark on an epic ad­ven­ture in Spain where they will train with some of La Liga’s top coaches, and play com­pet­i­tive games against four of Spain’s strong­est acad­e­mies.

The duFC elite team will be based in Mar­bella where they will un­dergo in­ten­sive train­ing ses­sions be­fore play­ing youth teams from Cadiz, Cor­doba, Sevilla and Malaga.

It will pro­vide a stern test for these young hope­fuls as they bid to carve out a ca­reer in foot­ball. But cham­pi­onship di­rec­tor and for­mer Real Madrid right­back Michel Sal­gado has high hopes for the squad af­ter over­see­ing their de­vel­op­ment.

“The level of foot­ball was high and we were sur­prised time and again by what we saw - real raw ta­lent right here in the UAE,” Sal­gado told 7DAYS.

“We spent the month of May train­ing the se­lected tal­ents with coaches from La Liga to pre­pare the team for their trip to Spain and we ob­served great im­prove­ment in their skills and stamina over the month.

“We are very proud of how far they have all come and look for­ward to watch­ing them in ac­tion in Spain.”

Hav­ing caught the eye of scouts dur­ing the tour­na­ment, the mem­bers of the elite squad were pushed to their lim­its by coaches in May.

For winger Ahmad Salam, it was a chance to work with one of his he­roes and learn more about the tac­ti­cal side of the game.

“I went through the train­ing clinic with my hero Roberto Car­los and dur­ing the train­ing ses­sions in May, I learned to re­ally un­der­stand the game strate­gi­cally,” said Salam.

“I know where my team­mates are at any one point and where I should be to help my team­mates get the most of each play.

“I can’t wait to go to Spain now and play against the best there is and put ev­ery­thing I learned to the test.”

Driss Matni, who played along­side Salam in the UAE Streets Cup, also hopes the trip to Spain will al­low him to move one step closer to re­al­is­ing his dream of sign­ing for a pro­fes­sional club. “The in­tense train­ing we went through helped us all re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the amount of hard work that goes into play­ing at the top lev­els,” said the young striker. “That’s where we all want to be and we are now the clos­est we’ve ever been to mak­ing our dreams come true.”

It will cer­tainly not be easy for the Elite squad as they will be tak­ing on some of the strong­est acad­e­mies in Spain. Both Sevilla and Malaga pride them­selves on de­vel­op­ing ta­lent.

Real Madrid su­per­star Ser­gio Ramos came through the Sevilla academy, as did Manch­ester City winger Je­sus Navas. While Malaga’s Juanmi is con­sid­ered one of the best young tal­ents in Span­ish foot­ball.

How­ever, the UAE young­sters are ex­cited at the prospect of play­ing the top Span­ish acad­e­mies and winger Ahmed El Ya­mani be­lieves the in­ten­sive train­ing com­pleted in May will stand them in good stead dur­ing their Euro­pean ad­ven­ture.

“The train­ing with the La Liga coaches in May was in­tense,” he said.

“We trained four times a week and I have learned a lot about build­ing my stamina, skill and tac­ti­cal drills to pre­pare for the trip.”

The 20 mem­bers of the duFC Elite Team will head to Spain later this month and when they re­turn will be part of the du La Liga high per­for­mance cen­tre. This will al­low the play­ers to con­tinue their rig­or­ous train­ing all year round and hope­fully com­plete their goal of earn­ing a pro­fes­sional con­tract.

We pick out three of the play­ers to watch from the duFC Elite Team go­ing to Spain...

ON THE BALL: The duFC Elite Team are put through their paces dur­ing the in­tense train­ing

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