Club of the week: Abu Dhabi Strollers Football Club

Matt Jones - Editor 08:54 08/10/2015
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The Strollers has been the go-to club for football lovers who move into Abu Dhabi.

As we all know the UAE can be a transient place, with people coming and going, but Abu Dhabi Strollers Football Club have had a constant footprint in the desert for 35 years.

The not-for-profit amateur club has been offering competitive and organised football for lovers of the beautiful game from all corners of the globe in the UAE since 1980, playing 52 weeks a year – even throughout the torturously hot and humid summer months.

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Having started with a team of just eight footballers, the club today boasts a membership of 200 players, who play every week at Strollers’ home of Zayed Sports City each Monday, with three teams competing in the Haddins Adult Football League.

The man with the thankless task of organising a gathering of around 72 footballers every week, as well as booking pitches, buying equipment, organising league games and managing finances is Liam Clayton, who has been the man in the middle at Strollers for the last two years.

“When I took over, we had 30 lads a week at Al Ghazal,” said Clayton.

“We’ve gone from that to 72 a week at Zayed Sports City with 200 members. It shows how popular we are and how much we’ve grown in the past two years.

“We’re getting bigger and bigger and it will continue to be around as long as people want to play.”

Every Monday, members pay around Dh50 to play for 90 minutes and everything the club makes goes back into the club, to buy footballs and provide home and away strips to regulars, with around 300 kits given away by the club in the last two years.

Strollers in the park: Members get ready for a game at Zayed Sports City.

From not having a Dirham to its name two years ago, Strollers are now a self-sustained football club.

Around 80 per cent of club members are from the UK or Europe, but Strollers is also home to players from Argentina, America, Asia and various Arab nations.

Strollers netted the inaugural Haddins Adult Football League title two seasons ago and Clayton believes the club is going from strength to strength.

“Our home, Zayed Sports City, provides a perfect location for everyone to get to with fantastic facilities for our ever-growing numbers,” said the Newcastle United fan.

“We have players both past and present who play to fantastic levels of football. Our standard is ever increasing and with a turnout of over 70 players a week, it makes us one of – if not the most popular – football clubs in Abu Dhabi.

“The Abu Dhabi Strollers’ motto is to provide football for people who have yet to even think about moving to Abu Dhabi.

“When lads are deciding about taking their job here, one of the normal conundrums people think about is ‘what about my football?’

“It’s become completely normal for people to get in touch with us and say they’re moving to Abu Dhabi and want to get involved.”

What: Abu Dhabi Strollers Football Club
Founded: 1980
Where: Zayed Sports City
When: Monday and Tuesday nights

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