x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Event should inspire youngsters to be UAE’s football stars of the future

More than 10,000 schoolchildren across five emirates will get visits ahead of the Fifa U-17 World Cup, which begins on Thursday.

ABU DHABI // Organisers hope the event will inspire the next generation of Emirati football stars.

“There is already a lot of talent here in the UAE and they are doing very well now in the likes of the Gulf Cup and other regional events,” said Inaki Alvarez, Fifa deputy director of competitions.

Before the tournament begins on Thursday, 21 schools in the six host cities will be visited by the local organising committee, giving youngsters a taste of what is in store and a chance to meet some local football stars.

More than 10,000 schoolchildren will have the chance to win prizes and leave good luck messages for their favourite teams in the competition.

“This is another great step forward which brings us closer to the largest football event ever staged in the UAE,” said Mohammed bin Bdoua, the tournament director.

It is hoped that by engaging with footballers from a young age, the children will be inspired to be mindful of their own health and fitness.

“The UAE is a country that loves football and it’s a sport that is part of every school’s curriculum,” Mr bin Bdoua said.

“We are reaching out to children to encourage them to be a part of this huge football festival and support their teams. This activity is also a great refresher for children about the importance of being active and staying healthy through playing sports in school.

“The Fifa U17 World Cup is an inspirational tournament to this younger generation who are passionate about the sport, and we hope we’ll see some of them representing their country one day in an international tournament.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae