City Football Club (CFC) only launched in October but in the short span of time, they have already shown why they are one of the top academies in the UAE.
Their trophy cabinet already has silverware with their Under-14 side winning the UAE FA Academy League while their U-16 and U-18 sides were runners-up in their respective age groups.
CFC have various age group teams ranging from U-7 to U-18s on different programmes and while winning games will clinch trophies, so is sticking to the club’s philosophy of ‘preparing players for the next level of football’.
It isn’t just about turning up for training and developing their skills on the field but what happens off the pitch.
For instance, the Under-14s have various conditioning sessions as well as yoga followed by high intensity work on their speed and agility during the week. By Thursday, they will play small matches between themselves ahead of their competitive games on Saturday.
It’s a programme that is similarly followed by professional clubs and an important step for the budding footballers at CFC.
“The stuff that we do off the field is the biggest selling point for us,” said Adam Burrows, one of six coaches at CFC with more than 15 years coaching experience between them.
“We have got great facilities and coaches and a lot of academies have that here. Where we manage to be so successful in this period of time is all round it. The programmes we have mean the players are tested regularly and have gym sessions from 14 and upwards.
“We film the games and give progress reports on their performances. They will be able to find out how many touches the player has had on the ball and how much distance they’ve covered. It tailors the coaches for the individual need of the player. I think it’s with things like these that we’ve seen such a big progress so far with our players in a short span of time.”
A third place finish this season for City FC's U-14''05 squad. Our crew caught up with Arthur Schultz Saturday post-match, who spoke about the team's performance and his own performance during the season. #CFCpassion pic.twitter.com/wJrFq4zMUA— City Football Club (@cityfcofficial) March 19, 2018
Although being based in Dubai allows them to play in various competitions in the Emirate, as part of the players’ development, teams also go on tour.
The U-14 side travelled to England in March just 24 hours after competing in a two-day tournament in Abu Dhabi. As well as playing Bolton, Bury and Fleetwood Academy sides, they also reached two finals in England including the Manchester Super Cup. They also won the four-day Dubai Super Cup.
For CFC, testing against players of different cultures is crucial to see where they stand in their all-round game.
“The competition is good here but we want to bridge the gap,” added Burrows. “In Europe, the game is a lot more intense so we’re trying to replicate the UK model so when we do go over there, they can be used to the familiarity of what to expect.
“One of the issues in Dubai are the lack of competitions. We think with the programme we have allows the players to play a lot of football all the time.”
With players aiming to play in the highest tier of professional football one day, CFC also have strong relationships with top universities and colleges in the US with a group of boys going to the States in the summer.
Manchester City left everyone in awe by how they played in the Premier League title-winning season and with football continuing to evolve with different styles of play, it is something that CFC coaches embraces.
“The best thing about Dubai is you have a wide number of nationalities in your team,” said Burrows. “It’s important that we play attractive football that they enjoy watching. We’re embracing what is happening on the outside world but also trying to implement ways as teams want to play exciting football.”
Speaking on their aim of playing in the Arabian Gulf League, Burrows added: “That’s the aim for us, everything that we do here is trying to set up a platform whether it’s professionally playing football or getting a scholarship in the States or playing here in a pro league, that’s what we’re trying to do and help the players. It’s not about making sure how good they are today and tomorrow, it’s about where they can be in the future.”
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