Stage set for Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup kick-off in Marasi Business Bay Dubai

Sport360 staff 30/10/2017
Eight teams will contest the competition in Business Bay.

The seventh edition of the Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup kicks off on Tuesday in its new home, Marasi Business Bay, with eight of the world’s best nations going head-to-head.

The event, organised by Dubai Sports Council, is sure to be keenly contested as hosts UAE seek to build on their promising 2017 season, which saw them finish second in Asian qualifying before bowing out of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup at the group stage despite picking up two wins.

If they are to go all the way this time around in Dubai, Mohamed Al Maazmi’s men will need to get the better of the world’s top two nations in the form of holders Brazil and European heavyweights Portugal.

Both will have their sights set on the title, with Brazil seeking to extend their incredible 42-match winning run and claim a third Dubai trophy while Portugal will hope to bounce back from their Euro Beach Soccer League defeat to Russia in September.

Egypt, featuring for a third time at the competition, complete Group A, while Group B promises a similarly tough test for the remaining four teams.

Iran, as the world’s third-ranked side, will be eager to maintain their recent record in this competition under new coach Marco Octavio, having finished fourth, third and runners-up consecutively in the last three years.

Three-time winners Russia, fresh off the back of their European triumph, welcome back some key personnel from injury for their bid to maintain what is a proud Intercontinental Cup history, with Mexico also boasting momentum.

El Tri warmed up for their trip to Dubai with success on home sand at the Visit Puerto Vallarta Cup nine days ago with FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2017 participants Paraguay completing the eight nations.

Entrance to the Huawei Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup at Marasi Business Bay is free, with the event running from October 31 to November 4.

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Al Ain youngster Hamad Al Shekaily crowned champion of FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 Mobile Roadshow competition

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Hamad Al Shekaily

Thirty participants, made up of five Under-12 teams from UAE football academies competed in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 Mobile Roadshow competition this weekend, with Al Ain’s Hamad Al Shekaily taking home the title of Mobile Roadshow Champion.

The Mobile Roadshow competition was set at Zayed Sports City (ZSC), one of the co-hosting stadiums of the 14th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup (FCWC) that will take place from December 6 — 16 in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, UAE.

The five participating teams; Al Wahda, Bani Yas, Al Jazira, Al Dhafrah and Al Ain battled it out as they attempted to beat record scores set by other participants and FIFA legends Eric Abidal, Ivan Córdoba and Mikael Silvestre.

Following the FCWC official draw in Abu Dhabi, the legendary trio visited The Dubai Mall to inspire youngsters and test their skills at the Mobile Roadshow, setting scores for the participants of the Mobile Roadshow competition to break.

Al Shekaily, who won following a brilliant performance in the ‘Save Hero’ challenge, has played football for seven years and attends Nahdat Al Tamayuz School. He walks away as Mobile Roadshow Champion with a host of great prizes.

“All of the youngsters competing had a fantastic time and showcased their amazing skills. It was great to see them having so much fun, competing to beat scores set by football legends like Eric Abidal, Mikael Silvestre and Ivan Córdoba,” said His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, tournament director of the Local Organising Committee.

“The Mobile Roadshow is a great way for these youngsters to practice and test their skills. All of those competing today showed determination and grit, putting in a huge amount of effort to beat the highest scores. Having superstar names to challenge yourself against is really inspiring,” said Ahmad Marzooq Al Nuaimi, Coach of Al Ain.

“We would like to extend our thanks to the Local Organising Committee of the FCWC UAE 2017 for inviting us. We have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Mobile Roadshow activities and are now more excited than ever to attend the tournament this December,” he added.

The FCWC Mobile Roadshow is touring the UAE’s schools, malls, public parks and many more locations, encouraging local communities across the country in the build up to the tournament that will kick-off on December 6 at Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.

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Manchester City and Mundipharma co-host youth football camp in Abu Dhabi in presence of Paul Dickov

Matt Jones 19/10/2017
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Paul Dickov (l) talking to Manchester City academy students in Abu Dhabi

Living a healthy and nutritious life is more popular than ever, but in a region like the Gulf where education for the younger generation is perhaps lacking, Raman Singh reveals it was a “no brainer” for leading healthcare organisation Mundipharma to partner with Premier League giants Manchester City.

Mundipharma’s Betadine range is the official healthcare product partner of Abu Dhabi-owned City and the two co-hosted a two-day youth football camp taking place in the UAE capital last month.

Former City striker Paul Dickov was in attendance to pass on his knowledge to budding stars of the future at the IPIC Arena on September 7 and Singh, Mundipharma vice president for the MENA region, said associating themselves with one of the world’s leading clubs is the ideal way to drum in the importance of a healthy lifestyle to youngsters in the UAE.

“It’s a lot more beneficial for Mundipharma and Betadine to team up with a football club like Manchester City which can raise eyebrows, people notice and want to get involved. It’s a win-win for both,” said Singh.

“Healthcare in general is quite reactive. If you fall sick you take medication. I personally believe we need to move from reactive to proactive.

“How do you make sure you have measures in place so you don’t fall ill? Whether it’s by taking medication so you don’t fall sick or healthy living, having sports as a key aspect of your life so you stay fit.

“It’s very important for us to tie up with the next generation. We start from the grassroots to instill healthy lifestyle in children. So it makes sense to collaborate. We get a chance to communicate with kids.

“The key problem today is you have lifestyle illnesses, like diabetes and blood pressure. A lot of it is down to good eating, not having enough good living. Being in front of the computer and eating junk food.

“So it’s important we get education out there in a manner they can receive. Make it entertaining and engaging.”

Aside from partnering with a club known both in the Emirates, Britain and internationally, Singh explained that the partnership is not based solely on simply being a big name.

City’s status as a brilliant but still emerging force is something Singh said resonates with Mundipharma.

Mundipharma's Ashraf Allam (3rd r) with Dickov (2nd l)

Mundipharma’s Raman Singh (3rd r) with Dickov (2nd l)

He added: “Initially it started for the emerging markets last year. We thought Man City has been extremely popular in the developing world. The football is popular so we wanted to tie up with a brand that has a similar ethos value as us.

“In it for the long run and more of a fighting brand, aspiring to be number one but not quite there yet. Building blocks and foundations to get there.

“And Mundipharma is like that, we’re market leaders in some places, not in others so we wanted to tie up with a well-known brand where we could both gain leverage. We’re converting the emerging markets partnership into a global partnership.”

What started out as an initial one-year deal has now transformed into a three-year bond, something Singh is keen to point out is indicative of the importance with which they hold the Gulf region.

“It’s calculated not random. It’s not a one-year partnership, it’s strategic and long term and we want to grow as they’re growing,” said Singh, who revealed the company hope to grow throughout the MENA region as well as possibly look at setting up more links to sports teams and athletes.

“We have a history of partnering with sports people. We’ve partnered with Caroline Wozniacki in the past so this is not something that’s happened by accident. We’ve taken it to another level with Man City. We’re hoping it will be a stepping stone to something bigger.

“The UAE is a very strategic market for us. We came here in 2013, relatively young. It’s been encouraging the last four years but we wanted to take it to another level, hence the collaboration.

“It has a lot of benefits for the UAE and the Gulf region. The Premier League is extremely popular here, Man City is extremely popular, so this is for us a flagship programme, a poster child that we could replicate in other parts of the world.

“We’ve just switched the partnership from being popular in the developing world to having more of a global reach. It’s a three-year deal now so we’re logged in until 2020 and hopefully beyond.

“The first year has been extremely positive which is why we’ve extended the partnership and we hope it will grow from strength to strength. The idea is to expand the programme to other parts of the Middle East, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia.”

As for Dickov, the Scotsman was impressed by the attitude and skills on display over the two-day camp on his first visit to Abu Dhabi. But he wasn’t surprised that City are thriving in the Emirates.

“What City are doing here with Mundipharma, it’s wonderful,” said Dickov, who made more than 150 appearances for City in two spells between 1996-2002 and 2006-08.

“It’s not the first one I’ve come out on, I went to Singapore a few months ago with Betadine and coming here to Abu Dhabi is fantastic. It’s my first time here. It’s City’s seventh year here and they have 1,500 kids.

“They’re brought up in the Man City way and what they’re trying to do here is fantastic. It’s taken time but they’ve slowly but surely got players throughout the age group that are really talented.

“I was expecting it to be this big because I know how the club does things, they do it properly, so whether it’s in Manchester or here or New York, Melbourne. I knew it’d be great.”

And having now teamed up with Mundipharma, Dickov believes the next generation of potential City players are better equipped than any other previous generation to become future footballers.

“The coaches are working on technical aspects, but showing them how to look after themselves properly,” said Dickov.

“Making them aware of health, which is obviously a big factor these days. Teaching them life skills as well as football skills. And the kids have been a joy to work with, there’s some talented players but the attitude and application has been great too.

“They get nutritional programmes to follow now. When I was a kid we’d get given a programme in pre-season if we were lucky but today obesity is a big problem all around the world so raising importance at a young age is vital.

“The younger you can teach them something they’ll carry it on throughout their lives.”

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