As the countdown to the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 approaches lift-off, the tournament’s Organizing Committee is teaming up with fans across the country to ensure that the event gets off to a great start. That achieved, the next challenge will be to keep standards high until the competition’s final on 8 November.

While the participating teams put the finishing touches to their preparations, UAE supporters’ associations are themselves working hard to encourage as many local fans as possible to attend the opening ceremony. And with UAE set to start their campaign when they run out against Honduras at exactly 20:00 local time on Thursday evening, organizers will be looking for a large home crowd to cheer the host nation on.

I expect the UAE’s games to be crammed with supporters backing the boys in white. It might be a youth tournament, but it’s still a World Cup! 

Al Ain and UAE super-fan Rashed is amped up

With around 24 hours to go until kick-off, spoke to Mohammed ‘The Boss’ Rashed, head of the Al Ain Supporters’ Association, which backs one of the country’s biggest and most important clubs. Rashed talked about the preparations being made by various supporters’ associations, who are not only aiming to boost their national team’s chances, but also to make the entire tournament a success. 

“The U-17 World Cup is a massive event and the eyes of the world will be on UAE in the weeks ahead,” said Rashed, on the importance of the task ahead. “We supporters, along with the general public and sports personalities, must make sure we play a major role in bringing the best possible tournament to the world and showing them what a modern, wonderful place UAE is.”

It is Rashed’s custom to attend football matches in traditional Emirati costume, wearing the scarf of either his club, Al Ain, or the national team. He is certainly a proud patriot: “We are mounting intensive campaigns to ensure fan attendance at the stadiums. We want to send a clear message that UAE is capable of hosting major events and reflect our country’s constant progress and development.”

All roads lead to the stadium!
The matches at UAE 2013 are to be held across six of the country’s various emirates. The fans, as The Boss puts it, “are a factor in the success of any tournament,” and the club associations and their branches will be making sure they follow games wherever they are held.

“We’ve got lots of ideas and we hope we’ll be able to carry them out in the stadiums,” said Rashed, who has made professional studio recordings of his own songs about club and country. “They’re fresh new ideas that will reflect and embody our country’s culture. All the associations will do their very best, since our primary purpose is to cheer on the UAE team and attend the other games throughout the country, depending on our presence in each region.”

He predicted the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be packed with UAE fans eager to support the hosts, and said just why he expects large crowds to turn up, even hours before kick-off: “The national team’s recent results will motivate the fans to turn up in large numbers. I expect the UAE’s games to be crammed with supporters backing the boys in white. It might be a youth tournament, but it’s still a World Cup!”