An aspiring Dubai-based youngster who had to turn down a trial with Toronto FC 12 months ago is hoping to make his dream of playing professional football a reality in what has been an incredible journey so far.
William Wiedmer, 12, was given an opportunity that any young kid would dream of when he was asked to trial for the MLS outfit’s Under-12 team last summer. However it came at a time when his family was moving to Dubai and he reluctantly had to reject the chance.
That only fuelled his determination and as soon as they arrived in the UAE in September 2017, his parents enrolled him at Spanish Soccer School (SSS) and LaLiga Academy. The coaches were immediately impressed with his raw talent that saw him train at Under-13 at SSS while playing games at U-14 level at LaLiga.
Wiedmer will travel to Spain next summer after impressing in the du LaLiga High Performance Centre trials that will see him compete against La Liga academies.
It’s another opportunity to showcase his talent and take a step forward in making his dream come true but the fact that he has reached this far is even more impressive.
Born with pyloric stenosis – an immature digestive system that prevented him from keeping food in his stomach, at age two and half, William’s parents asked doctors to postpone the operation until the end of the summer holidays.
By that time, the condition had gone but had already shown a strong interest in football after getting a pair of shorts with a football on them. It was something he loved so much that he wore them daily before they didn’t fit anymore.
He also stopped practising judo to focus fully on playing football.
Now aged 12, Wiedmer, who studies at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, recalls that moment of missing out on the Toronto trial while also admitting doubts over whether he would be able to follow his dream in Dubai.
“That was very hard,” he of the Toronto trial. “I actually cried because I had worked so hard and it was what I was really hoping and training for. I also wasn’t sure what the teams in Dubai were going to be like and if anyone would want me to join their team.
“It’s really hard to try out for any new team because nobody ever wants to pass to a new kid, and it’s really hard to shine. You almost have to earn the trust of your team-mates before they will pass the ball.
“I was really lucky because the coaches at both clubs I was playing with really liked my style and put me onto their top teams. Unfortunately, I had to choose which team to play matches for even though I trained with both, so I chose the LaLiga team because I was playing on the team higher than my age group.
“I thought it would help me to develop faster if I was always playing with and against kids who were taller, faster and stronger.”
Should he impress the scouts in Spain next year, Wiedmer will take one step closer to his goal but already has ambitious plans.
“I really want to play football professionally,” he said. “I know it will take a lot of hard work but I would be so happy to play for Switzerland or Canada. I want to score the goal that takes Switzerland into their first World Cup quarter-finals.
“My next goal is to be the best on my HPC team, and to play super well when I go to Spain next summer to play against all the top academies there.
“If the scouts like what they see, then they watch you play over the years and when you are 16, they will invite you to a trial on their professional teams. Then you just need to hope that they offer you a place on their team.”
The team were in the city ahead of their International Champions Cup match against Borussia Dortmund on Friday at Soldier Field.
Members of the City first team, including new signing Riyad Mahrez, attended the festival alongside club ambassadors and former players Mike Summerbee and Paul Dickov.
The UAE Special Olympics team, in Chicago for the Games’ 50th anniversary celebrations taking place this month, also visited the festival ahead of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, due to take place in the UAE capital in March next year.
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of ‘people of determination’ into everyday society.
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most unified games in history and promises to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.
Local community members, alongside members of City supporters’ clubs, took part in the festival where they experienced exciting fan activations and football-themed games.
Supporters also got the chance to have their photo taken with the Premier League trophy and League Cup that were won by City last season.
This festival builds on Manchester City’s global community work that is delivered in 18 cities around the world through the Cityzens Giving programme – empowering young leaders to use football to tackle important social issues in their communities.
The festival took place at the football facilities at Haas Park Soccer Field that was originally gifted by the UAE embassy in October 2012 and where hundreds of local children have benefitted from football and education sessions.
Omar Berrada, Manchester City’s chief operating officer, said: “One of the most special things about Manchester City’s international tours is getting the opportunity to host events in the local communities that we visit.
“Football festivals like we saw today in Chicago are a fantastic way for us to provide fun and inclusive activities for children and young people, and bring an authentic City experience right into the neighbourhoods of our supporters.”
Mutu, 39, moves to Al Nahyan Stadium on a two-year deal according to reports.
“Al Wahda football club announce the contract with the Romanian coach Adrian Mutu with the 39-year-old to take over the training of the reserve team,” said a club statement.
“Mutu is a great addition to the team. His football record includes many team achievements and numbers. He has already represented the Romanian team and a number of European clubs as a football player.”
Mutu arrives in the capital to link up with compatriot Laurentiu Reghecamp, who took over the Clarets from Javier Aguirre last term.
Mutu’s last and only managerial appointment to date was a brief and unsuccessful coaching stint with Romanian top-flight club FC Voluntari where he won just three of his eight games in charge.
The former Fiorentina forward only took over in April having been general manager of FC Dinamo until October 2017 and then sports director of the Romanian Football Federation.
He will be hoping for much better fortunes in the UAE when he takes charge of an Al Wahda reserves side who will be aiming to reclaim their Arabian Gulf League reserves title after finishing runners-up to Al Nasr by four points last season.
Al Wahda open their league campaign with a visit to Dibba Al Fujairah on September 1.