Diego Maradona will continue as the Dubai sports ambassador
DUBAI // Diego Maradona is looking forward to shaping the future generation of Emirati footballers after renewing his contract as honorary sports ambassador of Dubai for another year.
The Argentine football legend, who was appointed Dubai’s sports ambassador this past September following his sacking by Al Wasl after a disappointing season, has been given an extension because of the “added value” he has brought to Dubai both “on and off the sports field”, according to Dr Ahmad Al Sharif, the secretary general of the Dubai Sports Council.
“I am really proud of renewing this contract,” Maradona said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“I was really keen to continue in this role and I cannot stop thanking Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum [Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] and Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum [Crown Prince of Dubai], because he was the one who promised that I will be going to stay in Dubai for a long time.
“I am far from my country, but believe me, in Dubai I have found my second home, and I promise that I will work hard and offer all my experience to service of Dubai and this country.”
Over the past year, Maradona has appeared at every sports event hosted by Dubai and he has also helped in “the promotion of commercial relations between the UAE and Argentina”.
Moving forward, the football legend will be at the helm of a system being developed by the Dubai Sports Council to help improve the football academies in the emirate.
“We are going to launch an academy next September and Maradona will be the director supervisor and mentor,” Al Sharif said. “The academy will not be connected to any other academy or to any Dubai club.
“So you will see him back on the pitch starting September. We also have workshops where the work done by all the Dubai coaches will be evaluated. We will start a new stage in enhancing the football academies of Dubai and this new system will be led by Maradona.
“After two years of studying and field visits to countries like Germany, Italy, France, Spain and England, we came up with this new system, which was approved and will be launched later this year.”
Maradona is also excited about the project and cannot wait for it to start.
“We have some very good projects in the pipeline for youngsters between 12 and 16, and I am really looking forward to it,” he said.
“That’s what I want to do – to share my experience with these youngsters and give them everything I have.
“When the football players are 18, it is very late. That’s why we want to start preparing them from the age of 12 so that when they arrive for big football, they will be ready.”
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Updated: July 9, 2013 04:00 AM