x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

From ball control to self-control, as football clubs help to tackle bullying

The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children has recruited three local football organisations to help children overcome physical and psychological abuse at school.

DUBAI // Children who are bullied in school will soon get a little help from three football clubs. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children has recruited three local football organisations to help children overcome physical and psychological abuse at school. The organisation is now working with the Libra Football Academy, Al Nasr Football Club and Sharjah Football Club on the venture, which uses the sport as a way to address the issue.

The approach features a new style of football called Soccer 4ce, which uses a process of "guided discovery" and four-a-side matches to teach children how to get a long, said Adrian John, the director of football at the Libra Academy. Even top-level professionals, including the Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, Sven-Göran Eriksson, the former England manager, and Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager and manager of Inter Milan, reportedly use the techniques to teach their players.

"Players are led gently to lessons rather than simply being told what to do," Mr John said. The Soccer 4ce format was launched at the weekend with 50 boys and girls from Al Nasr's youth teams, the Greenfield Community School, the American University of Sharjah and the Australian International School in Sharjah. Teachers have noticed that bullying is on the rise in schools, said Ohud al Suwaidi, the foundation's communications director.

"Furthermore, local studies have shown that bullies themselves come from an abusive background and violence within their families," she said. "We aim to curb this phenomenon by introducing the children to sports where activities can be more competitive and less oppressive." The foundation has also launched a pilot programme with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority that aims to get victims of bullying to speak to consultants and social specialists about their experiences.

In January, the Abu Dhabi Education Council introduced a new policy on behaviour and discipline, one that requires all its schools to have procedures that address bullying and its consequences. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae