E-Sports Football has been awarded club status, meaning it has been officially recognised by the UAE Football Association.
E-Sports has been one of the leading football academies in the Middle East for more than 10 years, delivering first class programmes to aspiring young footballers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Under the guidance of ex-professional footballers and UEFA licensed coaches who all share an ethos and values that are to promote good sportsmanship as well as a positive attitude to team-mates and opponents, every player’s strengths are brought out on and off the pitch.
Success stories include players who have made the jump from the E-Sports platforms to contracts with high profile clubs abroad, including Archie Woods (West Ham United), Hayden Johnson (Oldham Athletic), Eno Nto (Chelsea), Callum Beaver and Harry Francis (Notredame University, USA).
Our Under 9’s, 10’s, 11’s and 12’s fresh and ready for today’s pre-season friendly against Al Wasl Sports Club. pic.twitter.com/zNscDNiUbk
— E-Sports FC (@EFC_Dubai) September 10, 2015
E-Sports Football Club director Terry Kidd said: “We are extremely proud to be the first academy to achieve club status in the UAE. As a non-Emirati organisation this is a fantastic achievement and the result of continued evolvement as a development platform for youth footballers.
“We would like to thank the UAE Football Association for their recognition and look forward to supporting their tremendous efforts to further develop the sport in the country.”
E-Sports offers Early Touches for three-six-year-olds, Skills in Schools for four-11, Boys Coaching for seven-16, Girls Coaching for three-16, Development/Elite Squads and the Junior Football League for six-16.
The team will continue to deliver sessions in several venues located across Dubai under their new title E-Sports Football Club, which opens up new doors including full access to the UAE FA Pro League, putting their players on the same step with successful local clubs Al Ahli, Al Wasl and Al Shabab.
The UAE will be part of history on Tuesday when they face Palestine in the first group-stage World Cup qualifier played in the latter’s territory.
The Lions of Canaan have previously struggled to put on such matches because of Israeli sanctions restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
This issue has been cleared for the Asian Football Confederation second-round clash with Faisal Al Husseini Stadium in Al Ram hosting the game.
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UAE coach Mahdi Ali was aware of the significance of the fixture – which is also the first time at home against a fellow Arab nation – both on and off the pitch.
He said: “The ultimate goal of the first group game in Palestine is to unite the people. We are happy with our presence in Palestine and to perform in Palestinian territories.
“I stress the importance of respecting the opponent and performing very seriously. We hope for success in the meeting.”
The visitors lead the way in Group A on goal difference after a relentless 10-0 dismantling of Malaysia last Thursday, with third-placed Palestine their main opposition for a top-two spot.
Two-legged qualification ties were played at the Faisal for the 2012 Olympic Games against Thailand and 2014 World Cup versus Afghanistan.
They were meant to play Saudi Arabia at the 12,500-capacity venue in June, but the pool match was switched to Dammam because of “exceptional circumstances”.
The Whites have a perfect record of two wins from two so far. They will need to keep up the pace versus the 119th-ranked nation, only the group winners and four best runners-up making the third round.
Ali’s men were sensational at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium against the lowly Harimau Malaya. Forwards Ahmed Khalil and Ali Mabkhout scored four and three goals respectively, while standout playmaker Omar Abdulrahman provided an incredible six assists.
Palestine warmed up in a less emphatic manner, drawing 0-0 with Lebanon in a friendly. Despite the disparity in performances, Palestine boss Abdelnasser Barakat refused to be cowed.
He said: “We don’t feel afraid of the UAE after their big win against Malaysia as the match gave us a good idea about how to face them.
— Footynions (@footynions) September 7, 2015
“Their power is in their offence and they have many key players, such as Omar Abdulrahman, Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil.
“As we are playing at home, we will try to force our own style and try to prevent them from scoring.”
The UAE’s visionary role in accepting the trip has been warmly received by Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub.
He said: “We applaud the UAE’s leadership on this matter. For the last home match and at the request of Saudi Arabia, we accepted the principle of rotation.
“We call on all Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, to play in Palestine under the auspices of FIFA and protection of the Palestinian police.”
The UAE will be wearing black armbands in their World Cup qualifier against Palestine at the West Bank, as a mark of respect for the Emirati soldiers that were killed on duty in Yemen.
Yousef Al Serkal, the president of the UAE Football Association (UAE FA), paid tribute to the 45 fallen soldiers and says the players have every right to mourn the loss of their brothers when they take on Palestine.
“These martyrs have sacrificed themselves for the sake of this country so the people of the UAE can lead safe and secure lives here,” said Al Serkal.
The country has been in a state of mourning since Saturday with all sports activities suspended and all clubs flying their flags at half-mast.
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The Arabian Gulf Cup matches, cancelled last Saturday, have been rescheduled for today with Emirates taking on Al Dhafra and Dibba facing Al Wahda at 17:40, and Al Shaab playing Al Ahli at 20:30, the PLC announced yesterday.
The Dubai Sports Council have also halted all activities and the secretary general Saeed Hareb released a statament saying: “Our people love glory and dignity. We live in dignity and die in dignity and seek martyrdom in the sake of homeland and values of dignity.”
The match between the UAE and Palestine, to be held at the Faisal Al Husseini Stadium, is an historic moment as it’s the first competitive tie to be played by the Palestine senior national side in their homeland.