Stars of tomorrow celebrate academy's third birthday with trip to Spain

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Alliance Academy

Some of football’s stars of tomorrow are getting the chance to train with some of the biggest names in Spain.

Alliance Academy, a UAE Football Association-approved soccer school, is traveling to Spain to train with La Liga giants Valencia.

This month, the academy celebrates its three-year anniversary having been set up in 2015 by Mehran Rowshan.

As part of the academy setup, this year, they will be taking thirty-five members to Spain for some La Liga coaching. “We actually work with Valencia FC and the difference between this trip and others is that we will train with Valencia’s coaches and use their academy. The kids get to play against their teams too.”

Crucially for Rowshan, the trip is just as much about education as it is football, “We also have a reading initiative while we’re there, each kid has to read their book before training and then at the end of the day a few of the kids will be speaking to the group about the book and what they’ve learned. It’s not just football we’re teaching; it’s educating kids and teaching them to be good people. This year 35 kids will be going with our coaches. Half of the group are under 10s and 12s and the other half are under 16s, so we’re looking forward to the trip.”

Rowshan started the Alliance Academy after his semi-pro career was cut short due to injury but his love of the game led him to become a professional coach, helping develop over 5,000 players off all abilities. He has designed a course, which helps develop character, build confidence and life skills as well as developing as a footballer.

His credentials include UEFA and International Coaching Licenses, along with qualifications in football psychology, match analysis and coaching children. “We’ve grown a lot and we expect to double in size by October this year, we should have around 300 kids,” Rowshan told Sport360°.

Players, between the ages of 4-18, spend the majority of sessions involved with a ball to establish a connection with it and to develop technique. Away from the pitch, players also get a good understanding of the health and nutritional side of the game to ensure they maximize their performance on the field.

The academy also gives children a chance to test their abilities with players overseas. Previous events have seen the Alliance Academy travel compete in Europe and Africa.

Children can get involved in the weekly training sessions, which take place, at Sunmarke School, JVT, on Sundays and Tuesdays and Fridays at Jebel Ali shooting club. Prices per term (10 weeks) are AED 2500 for 2 training sessions a week, AED 3300 for 3 training sessions a week.

For more information visit alliancefootballclub.com.

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New Volvo XC40 named 2018 European Car of the Year

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Award winner: Sporty Volvo XC40

Ahead of the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, Volvo has taken home the prestigious European Car of the Year award.

The XC40, a new sporty SUV, has picked up the 2018 gong adds to Volvo’s impressive collection of awards, including previous accolades for the other SUVs in the company fleet. Both the larger XC90 and mid-size XC60 SUV were awarded the North American Truck/Utility of the Year title in the past two years. The 2018 European Car of the Year award follows other recent recognition for the XC40, including the Car of the Year award by leading UK automotive publication What Car?

“Winning this award with our new XC40 is perfect timing,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. “Volvo now has three globally available SUVs in its range for the first time. The XC40 will be a strong contributor to further growth, taking us into a new and fast-growing small SUV segment.”

The XC40 roll-out will soon extend to China – the world’s biggest car market – where Volvo is expecting similar interest to the 20,000 cars ordered by customers across Europe and the US. It’s the first model on Volvo Cars’ new compact modular vehicle architecture (CMA), which will underpin all upcoming cars in the 40 Series, including fully electrified vehicles.

Volvo Car Group President: CEO Håkan Samuelsson

Volvo Car Group President: CEO Håkan Samuelsson

The XC40 is also the first Volvo to come with a car-sharing feature, enabled via Volvo’s digital key technology and its connected services platform Volvo On Call. XC40 owners can share their car with family and friends without having to hand over a physical key.

In another first, the XC40 launched Volvo Cars’ new subscription service, Care by Volvo, which offers car access via a monthly flat-fee subscription rather than ownership.

In 2017, the company announced its commitment to electrify all Volvo Cars launched from 2019. In line with this leadership position in electrification, a hybridised as well as a pure electric powertrain option for the XC40 will be added later.

“We have a clear strategy for growth and we are committed to leading in automotive safety, connectivity services and electrification,” said Håkan Samuelsson. “The XC40 reflects that commitment, and looking at the response from our customers and from the COTY jury here today, we are on the right track.”

Volvo, in operation since 1927, recorded sales of 571,577 cars in 2017 in 100 countries.

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Team GB athletes pass on their knowledge in an Ultimate coaching experience for youths

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Ready, set, go: Ultimate Athletics event

Team GB athletes made their way to Dubai Sports City athletics track to inspire the next generation of Olympic hopefuls.

Ultimate Athletics held the ultimate race night for Dubai’s young athletes in a number of events including the hurdles, high jump, javelin and 800 metre events.

Coaching the youngsters during the evening on behalf of Team GB was former double 400m European junior champion Laviai Nielsen. “I’m very impressed by the event, you don’t really think about sport in Dubai unless you’re here but there’s some real talent on show,” the 21-year-old told Sport360°.

“They’re taking it really seriously, maybe we’ll see some of these kids at the next Olympics.” As for her own Olympic dreams, Nielsen has her sights set on Tokyo 2020 having narrowly missed out on Rio.

Champion: Megan Dingle won the 800m

Champion: Megan Dingle won the 800m

“Tokyo is the aim so I’m just taking things one step at a time because I’m focused on the European Championships in August, then the World Championships next year to look forward to as well.”

For Nielsen, training is slotted in around her studies. “Training varies throughout the year but I do four or five hours of training a day so it’s quite intense,” added Nielsen, whose twin sister Lina is also a sprinter.

“But the nice thing about the 400m is that it varies a lot throughout the year, I do three gym sessions and three track sessions a week so it’s a combination of endurance, speed and speed endurance.

“I’m still at university and in my last year, so it’s very stressful and there’s a lot of sacrifices to be made and you have to be disciplined. I’m so excited to be done though. “University is very different but it does offer me an escape because training is so intense, I like having an escape from it with my education.”

A notable winner from the Ultimate Athletics was 14-year-old Megan Dingle who won the 800m in a time of 2:20:49. “In Dubai there’s good competition at this distance but I actually prefer the 1500m,” said the Dubai English Speaking College student. “I really enjoy running because there’s a great community of people doing it, and we all get along because we have similar interests. The big dream is the Olympics so I’ll keep aiming for that.”

Former European junior 200m silver medalist Leon Reid was part of the star-studded coaching staff at hand and was left thoroughly impressed with the talent on show. “It’s crazy competitive here, there’s cameras on the finish line and the kids are dipping for the finish.

It’s good fun and it seems to get better every year. The parents are really encouraging of the kids and if they want to build champions then they’re certainly going the right way about it.”

Reid will be competing for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month, and says a trip to the UAE has been the perfect tonic for a gruelling schedule. “I’ve got three part-time jobs, I work in a night club, I work in a school coaching kids and a supplement shop as well so I have to train on not a lot of sleep.

“I get up and train at around 10am until 1pm usually and then go to the school and from there I’ll have three hours before the nightclub work and when I’m not training I’ll be in the shop.

“It’s pretty exhausting so you can imagine how pleased I was to come here because it’s kind of a training holiday for me in many ways. I’ve got a lot of downtime because I train in the morning from 8am until 12pm so then we’ve got the time to do what we want.”

Ultimate Athletics has been running since 2015 and educates athletics with theory workshops as well as access to sports science-qualified coaches, nutritionists and physiotherapists.

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