ABU DHABI // A select group of teenage Emirati footballers will train like aspiring English Premier League players under a scholarship agreement between Al Jazira Club and Manchester City. Each year, four players will be selected from the Abu Dhabi club's youth ranks to go to Manchester. They will receive the same training as City's own leading prospects, and will also attend school there.
The first batch of players, aged 14 to 16, will begin training in September. City will have an option to sign the players on a one-year reserve team contract, but the aim is for them to return to Jazira to play in the Pro League. The scheme is a result of the growing relationship between the clubs. Jazira's chairman, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, is also the owner of City. Phil Anderton, the chief executive of Jazira, said: "It will really help us."
"They will take our best players and put them in an environment which is much more advanced because they have been involved in professional football for a lot longer than we have. "More than just the technical side, it is about putting our players in a tougher environment where they are out of their comfort zone and mixing with people from different countries. "Our belief is that those players will then come back to Al Jazira as stronger players who can help our first team perform at a higher level."
Jazira and City have forged a strong bond since Sheikh Mansour acquired the English club in 2008. Previously, City have sent their coaches to Abu Dhabi to advise on the running of Jazira's junior section. Now Jazira hope to tap into City's expertise to help them to become one of the leading teams in Asia. firstname.lastname@example.org