Wednesday 09 February 2022, 11:00

FIFA Forward lights up UAE’s football future

  • FIFA Forward funding invested in floodlights and technical centre

  • UAE see FIFA Club World Cup™ as catalyst for progress

  • UAE FA aiming to build on European model of technical development

The United Arab Emirates, current hosts of the FIFA Club World Cup™ in Abu Dhabi are looking to use the tournament as a catalyst for further progress, thanks to funding from the FIFA Forward programme. FIFA Forward funding has been used to renovate the UAE Football Association’s technical centre in Dubai, complete with floodlights that illuminate pitches used by men, women and youth team players. This allows technical programmes and coaching to run later in the day. “The UAE benefits from the FIFA Forward programme and we have already established a good relationship on other projects which have been done,” said United Arab Emirates Football Association General Secretary Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri. 

"We’re working together now with FIFA on renovating our training centres. We are planning to establish an education centre, which is an infrastructure project aligned with our Strategy 2038. It will focus on our capacity and manpower on the technical and managerial side." 

Floodlights at FIFA Forward funded facility in Dubai, UAE

“We in the UAE Football Association have benefited, during the first cycle, from improved lighting which has assisted us in implementing our various programmes and which has served all our footballers,” said the UAE FA’s Executive Director of Business Support Hamad Al-Junaibi. This infrastructure investment forms part of a wider plan within the UAE FA that even extends to nutrition programmes tailored to each player. “Within our culture, we are adopting a European structure within the FA that, we believe, will translate onto the pitch; a European style of play, consisting of a higher intensity game when the game conditions obviously allow,” said the UAE Executive Director of Technical Affairs & National Teams Omar Yabroudi.

“We know that a centre-back does not train like a striker and vice versa. It’s our duty to ensure that what they eat is beneficial to them in terms of what their bodies can take in but, also, what their position requires of them. We use data analysis to ensure that we can make the most of their physical performance.” UAE's men are currently ranked 69th in the FIFA/Cola-Cola World Ranking, having shot up from 130th a decade ago. This improvement has given the UAE a real chance of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™ 2022 in Qatar later this year, with the team currently third in their group.

To make this next step, the UAE know that exposing their players to more competitive, international football is imperative. “We need to expose our younger kids – our most talented kids – all the way up to the senior national team,” said Yabroudi. “We need to expose them in terms of going out on loan, playing in different cultures and different countries that can improve their technical, mental and physical capabilities.”

The support from FIFA is crucial

“FIFA is always in contact with us and always positive in developing the younger generations. We know that the starting point for football and for players is the grassroots, then going into the academies, U-14s and above,” said UAE men’s U14 Head Coach and U23 Assistant Coach, Faisal Mehemet al-Tahari. “If we have good development techniques and tactics for those players, that will definitely support us in the future.”