x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

What it costs: Recreational football

Football is one of the most loved sports in the world. We look at three training schools that will help youngsters improve their ability.

Children practice on a pitch next to the Dome on airport road during Manchester United Football School.
Children practice on a pitch next to the Dome on airport road during Manchester United Football School.

The temperature's dropping and you are faced with the challenge of occupying your children in some healthy pursuit.

Although there are a number of options, there is nothing like the beautiful game. Whether you call it football or soccer, the sheer pleasure of the sport worldwide - for players and spectators alike - is undoubted.

Millions of people watch the game, either on television or in the stands at stadiums, most days of the week. It's the game that crosses international boundaries and languages and is a talking point in just about every part of the globe.

Youngsters in Abu Dhabi - both girls and boys - have a golden opportunity to follow in the footsteps of football greats such as Pele, Lionel Messi or David Beckham. All they have to do is strap on a pair of boots, learn a few basic techniques, and the first time they kick or head a ball that gets past a goalkeeper, they will be hooked for life.

To start them on their way, the capital offers a number of programmes for beginners who might some day be idolised by the next generation of supporters, in either "footy" or rugby.

Alan Bonini and Faris Toqan take a quick scout around for some of the goal-scoring opportunities.


Barclays International Football Academy

The match Looking to have your children improve their footy skills while making new friends simultaneously? Look no further, as the Barclays Academy in Abu Dhabi has you covered. The academy has professionally trained staff and multiple locations all over the UAE.

The kick-off The courses range from seven to 13 weeks, depending on the academy. Young footballers will receive the attention needed to become even better, regardless of their current ability. From learning defensive tactics to scoring that winning goal, players will improve their skills dramatically. Courses for three to four year olds last 30 minutes, and one hour for ages five to 14.

The goal What fun would it be for your kids to learn, but never put their skills to the test? The academy offers a Premier Youth League, where children and adults can sign up to participate either as a team or be placed into a team. This gives the player the opportunity to feel the thrills and excitement of playing in a league.

The pitch This varies depending on the venue, but there are many situated across the UAE.

Dh35-Dh65 per session


Manchester United Football School

The match They might not have Sir Alex Ferguson looking over their shoulder, but youngsters can learn to play like "Man U" heroes Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs at the new Manchester United Football School. The initial six-week programme has already begun, but boys and girls aged seven to 16 can expand their skills with UK coaching staff at later dates.

The kick-off The age-specific programmes will take place over six weeks with players, regardless of ability, being put through a series of fun and challenging coaching sessions over 75 minutes, which involves dribbling, short passing, turning and finishing.

The goal As a bonus, all players will be given the opportunity to take part in a series of skills challenges and selected participants will be given the chance to attend the World Skills Final at Old Trafford in Manchester, UK, next year.

The pitch All courses take place at the Dome@Rawdhat on Airport Road, Abu Dhabi, in the UAE's first air-inflated cover over a soccer pitch, as well as outdoor pitches. Courses are held from Saturday to Tuesday every week.

Dh990 per course


Abu Dhabi Harlequins Club

The match If football is not your child's game, what alternatives do they have? Dashing through opposing players and sprinting towards the try line could be your child's future. This full-year course provides kids with the excitement and challenges of playing on a rugby team while giving them the personal attention they need to learn.

The kick-off Depending on the players' age, they will be put to the test to push themselves beyond their limit for 90 minutes every Thursday. Through hard work and perseverance, players can improve their rugby skills with the professionally prepared drills and practices that are organised.

The goal If practicing becomes tedious, there are always games of rugby to drive the player beyond their imagination. Participating in a league consisting of seven teams, from all around the Gulf, this competition is a diverse and unique experience.

The pitch Courses take place on Thursdays at Zayed Sports City, a massive metropolis of pure sporting activities located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Dh600-Dh850 per course