The United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA) in collaboration with FIFA held a youth football festival in Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai from 16-26 September with 102 schools in an effort to develop youth football in the country.  

HE Mohammed Abdulla Hazzam, acting secretary general of UAEFA attended the opening ceremony of the age groups festival which was hosted by the FA at the association’s offices. Hazzam thanked the partners of the association, FIFA, the Ministry of Education, the schools and the educational sector for their positive contributions to ensure the success of the festival, reiterating that the age group constitutes one of the strategic targets of the association.

The festival achieved its social and sporting goals with 172 children attending the event. The children were trained by coaches instructing on festival organisation, providing entertaining training sessions, and developing their technical skills.

The social aspect was represented in bringing the children together to be introduced to each other within the strategy of the association as recommended by the president of UAEFA, HE Yousuf Al Serkal that football is for all.

The juniors project, which will be launched in December, will contribute to the discovery of outstanding talents at an early age. The programme focuses on developing age group players as the cornerstone for the future of football in the UAE.

The successful implementation of Grassroots initiatives is dependent on an accurate appraisal of the situation on the ground, an evaluation of the country data and an assessment of local needs. This work, which is carried out by FIFA in conjunction with the national football associations, is essential to the success of all Grassroots programmes.

Planning and the identification of key aspects are followed by two essential phases that form a vital part of the Grassroots programme.  The first is a seminar organised by FIFA and attended by budding coaches and educators. Led by FIFA’s specialist instructors, the seminar provides an opportunity to study every facet of the programme: methodology, knowledge of the specific circumstances of the children taking part in the coaching, safety, technical aspects and small-sided games.

The second phase is the Grassroots Festival, with the emphasis being on the word “festival”. This celebration of football gives each participating team the chance to play the same number of games, which are interspersed with exercises.

After this landmark youth football festival, the UAE will look to continue on a positive path in using the beautiful game to develop the social and sporting goals of the country's next generation.