Talented expat footballers in the UAE are being given the opportunity to earn a professional contract with Al Wasl Football Club thanks to the launch of a new private programme in partnership with Dubai’s number one football academy, IFA.
The partnership, which is the first of its kind, will give players of all nationalities the opportunity to sign professional contracts in their adopted home. Something which has traditionally only been accessible to Emirati players.
The Al Wasl Private Academy programme primarily focuses on elite player development, giving talented expat players access to high performance training, professional football club facilities and a genuine pathway to the professional ranks.
Those who excel in the programme will be given the opportunity join the Al Wasl Academy and potentially follow in the footsteps of current Al Wasl and UAE starlet, Ali Salmeen, among other graduates.
“We are very excited to be working with Al Wasl,” said IFA technical director Tommy Wingrove. “Through this partnership, we are able to offer even more value and opportunity to talented young expatriate players in the UAE.
“Al Wasl has long been recognised as one of the UAE’s leading football clubs so it is our pleasure to establish this partnership and work closely with the clubs’ academy in welcoming players of all nationalities to train, develop and compete in a professional environment – a truly fantastic opportunity for many youngsters with aspirations of a career in football.”
New rules introduced by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan now mean players born to UAE women with expat husbands, players holding UAE passports, players born in the UAE and players residing in the UAE can now participate in all competitions in youth age categories. Clubs can also register three players born in the UAE and three players residing in the UAE at U21 level.
The Private Academy Programme is set to launch with the establishment of four squads in the U11, U14, U16 and U18 age categories. Recruitment is now open, with IFA’s UEFA qualified staff hosting a series of Talent ID camps and trial sessions at Wasl’s training facility. Players are invited to register through www.ifasport.com.
“The Private Academy concept is not designed strictly for elite players,” Wingrove added. “There will be programmes available for players of all ages and abilities. We are looking forward to introducing Al Wasl Football Club to an expat audience.
“Our roots at IFA are planted firmly in the community and we believe we can offer great value to Al Wasl Club as a result.”
“We are proud to partner with Dubai’s leading independent football academy, IFA,” said Mohammed Al Ameri, CEO of Al Wasl.
“The Al Wasl FC Private Academy is an important addition to our youth development programme and we are positive it will become an excellent recruitment channel offering an exciting pathway for young players of all nationalities who dream of becoming professionals.”
Nottingham Forest director John Metgod has left the club to become assistant coach of the UAE under Bert van Marwijk.
Metgod, 61, a former Forest player, was appointed to the Forest board in the summer of 2017.
“Nottingham Forest director John Metgod has left the club to take up a new role in international football as from 1st April 2019,” Forest said on their official website.
“The Dutchman now departs the club by mutual consent to take on a new role as assistant coach of the UAE national team.”
Former Netherlands midfielder Metgod spent three years at Forest as a player during the 1980s before moving on to Tottenham.
He has had two spells as manager of Dutch club Excelsior, has twice been assistant boss at Feyenoord and has also spent time as a coach at Derby and Portsmouth.
He will now link up with former Netherlands manager Van Marwijk, who took over as UAE boss on Wednesday and was unveiled before their 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening.
“I have very much enjoyed my time at the club and I would like to wish Martin (O’Neill) and the team the best of luck for the remainder of the season,” Metgod said.
“Everyone knows about my love for the people at the club and in the city so this was a very difficult decision for me.
“However the opportunity to get back on the grass and the day-to-day involvement with the football department is a role I have started to miss, so this opportunity appealed to me greatly.”
New UAE boss Bert van Marwijk watched from the stands as his new side overcame going a goal behind to fierce Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia to triumph 2-1 in a friendly in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
The Green Falcons – whom the Dutchman used to coach, qualifying them to the 2018 World Cup last summer before promptly resigning following a falling out – took the lead at Al Wahda’s Al Nahyan Stadium through striker Abdulfattah Adam’s 18th-minute opener.
But two goals in nine second half minutes turned the tide for the Whites – led for this game and their subsequent friendly with Syria by caretaker coach Saleem Abdulrahman.
First, Al Ain utility man Bandar Al Ahbabi stabbed home after Saudi failed to clear Abdalla Al Naqbi’s cross 11 minutes after the restart. Then, a free-kick found Al Jazira playmaker Khalfan Mubarak in the left hand channel. He chipped in a cross to the back post which was headed home by talismanic striker Ali Mabkhout – his Jazira team-mate.
Dutchman Van Marwijk was presented to media prior to the game following the 66-year-old’s announcement by the UAE Football Association as Alberto Zaccheroni’s replacement on Wednesday.
Details of the arrangement were not provided, but a four-year contract – worth approximately €3.6 million per annum, including technical staff – has been inked that encompasses the entire cycle for the global tournament and Asian Cup 2023.
The managerless Green Falcons are also again looking for another coach following Juan Antonio Pizzi’s departure after the Asian Cup.
FT: UAE 🇦🇪 2 - 1 🇸🇦 KSA— AFC (@theafcdotcom) 21 March 2019
UAE edge Saudi Arabia in a friendly match at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi! pic.twitter.com/uC6MYllxLT