Schoolchildren catching U-17 World Cup fever
© LOC

The FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 Local Organising Committee’s in-schools programme is currently being taken out to over 20 schools across the country to further increase excitement about the upcoming youth showpiece. 

Amticipation is certainly evident among the youngsters involved, and we managed to speak to a few of the ten, 11 and 12 year-olds in between the activities. Answering our questions about the U-17 World Cup were Cameron Bertoldi, Sophie Stokes, Jamila Hamza, Amaar Lila, Amelia Janajreh, Mouza Alghafre, Grace Khan and Sait Al Baloushi, all of whom attend the Al Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.

Why is the U-17 World Cup important for Abu Dhabi and UAE?
Lila: People in this country like soccer a lot and [the tournament] is a great way for them to enjoy their sport. They are crazy for it!
Stokes: It promotes the city and people will want to come and see the place. Plus, it is great for the U-17 players to play on a world stage.
Alghafre: This is a country where most people love football and it’s a good opportunity for them to play and watch what they love

What is the best aspect of the in-schools initiative?
Bertoldi: The team stuff. It’s fun having other people cheering on the other teams and then to cheer yourself when you’re not playing. It’s a great atmosphere.
Lila: It’s a great way for the school to enjoy soccer.
Stokes: It helps teach kids teamwork and its importance, in how your team encourage you to keep going.
Al Baloushi: Probably the ticket prizes or the soccer skills

And finally, what do you think the score will be when UAE play their opening match against Honduras on 19 October?
Bertoldi: Because of the atmosphere and the fact that UAE will be playing with all their fans there, I think they have a good chance. They definitely have a better chance at winning then a lot of countries involved.
Hamza: I’m not sure of the score but I think UAE will win because they are determined and it’s on their home turf.
Janajreh: And they’ll have most of the crowd cheering them. I think 2-1 to UAE.
Stokes: I think it will be a draw. It’s going to be really close because they want this game and I’m pretty sure UAE will score first because everyone here will be cheering them on. I’ve heard people who have lost their voice shouting at a football game.
Alghafre: I think it might be a draw too – maybe 2-2 - because it’s two really good countries going against each other
Lila: Honestly, I haven’t seen the UAE’s U-17 team play but I still think they have a great chance, especially as the tournament is taking place here. I think UAE will win 2-1.