Game on for duFC stars

Tal­ent scout­ing and youth tour­na­ment back for sea­son two

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT - durgesh@7days.ae By Durgesh Hari­das @the­gouyalle

T he du Foot­ball Cham­pi­ons has (duFC) an­nounced its sec­ond sea­son af­ter an over­whelm­ing first year in the UAE.

Con­ducted in col­lab­o­ra­tion with La Liga and some of Europe’s best youth coaches and tal­ent hun­ters, duFC is the only tal­ent-scout­ing pro­gramme for the Span­ish league in the Mid­dle East.

“We are very happy with the re­sults and in the first sea­son it­self one of the play­ers got a trial with the youth team of Malaga and that is a very big thing,” said Fer­nando Sanz, La Liga’s gen­eral di­rec­tor in the MENA re­gion.

The pro­gramme is headed by for­mer Real Madrid and Spain star Michel Sal­gado, who has been im­pressed with the raw tal­ent in the re­gion.

He said: “We started slowly but now we know we are do­ing things the right way.

“There is a lot of rough tal­ent in this re­gion, they are like rough di­a­monds and we have to bring them in to the academy while keep­ing in mind that they have their nat­u­ral game and make them ready for pro­fes­sional foot­ball.”

Sal­gado also com­mented on the pro­gramme’s aim to make the young­sters bet­ter hu­man be­ings while in­still­ing val­ues like team­work and how to han­dle pres­sure and fail­ure. How­ever, Sal­gado agreed that the big­gest chal­lenge for the pro­gramme was to find world-class opposition and com­pe­ti­tion for the play­ers at the High Per­for­mance Cen­tre in Dubai. He said: “The chal­lenge is to find the com­pe­ti­tion for th­ese guys, even the youth teams in Spain and around the world are find­ing this dif­fi­cult. “They may be good within their re­gion and coun­try but to im­prove more they must play against the best. “In­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments are the only way and that’s some­thing we are look­ing into as well.” The duFC Elite Team is a group of the best play­ers from all the par­tic­i­pat­ing teams in the com­pe­ti­tion and they train at the du High Per­for­mance Cen­tre un­der Rafael Gil, for­mer Malaga coach and as­sis­tant coach of the Saudi Na­tional team.

Gil said: “We have a com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach to the process, be­cause th­ese kids are young. From the hours of sleep, type of food and train­ing, for ev­ery in­di­vid­ual we have sep­a­rate plans for ev­ery player.”

Sal­gado hailed the ef­forts by par­ents and com­mended them for be­ing a part of their child’s dream.

He said: “The first and big­gest sup­port is al­ways from home. It is very im­por­tant that the par­ents un­der­stand what the kids want and not over sup­port them and leave it to the coaches when it comes to foot­ball.”

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