Emirati school footballers dream of World Cup glory with UAE

Pupils have been inspired by Morocco's magical displays during the tournament in Qatar

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Young footballers in an all-Emirati school side are dreaming of representing the UAE at the World Cup in years to come, after being inspired by Morocco's march to glory in Qatar.

The team of 10-year-olds have watched on in awe as the Atlas Lions first roared past highly regarded Belgium to secure a place in the knockout stages before shocking 2010 world champions Spain in a dramatic penalty shoot-out on Tuesday.

Morocco became the first Arab nation to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament, with fans from all over the region uniting to cheer them on.

The newly formed squad at Gems Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis are hoping the determined North Africans can go all the way ― even if many of the pupils have a soft spot for the Samba stars of Brazil.

Abdulla Alfarsi, 10, started playing football when he was only three years old.

The remarkable achievements of Morocco have given the sixth-year pupil the belief that he too could one day shine on the world stage.

Amazed by Morocco

"The teams I'm supporting are Brazil and Morocco and I'm really proud of Morocco because they're the first Arab team to ever reach the quarter-finals,” said Abdulla.

“It just amazed me and gave me hope that I can maybe reach that level one day as an Arab boy who has a dream to play professionally.

“My goal is to reach the highest level possible and I'm hoping that I can do that one day. My goal is to become professional football player and make the UAE proud.”

Saif Alefari, is also backing Brazil and the magnificent Moroccans.

“I am supporting Brazil, but part of me just wants Morocco to win. I would like to play for my country one day,” said Saif who loves sports and also plays volleyball and basketball.

Adulrahman Al Blooshi got so excited at watching Morocco win that he did a victory lap around in his house late on Tuesday.

He said he and his family were willing on the Arab nation.

“I am supporting Morocco but also a tiny part of me is supporting Brazil," said Adulrahman.

“It felt amazing to watch Morocco win,” said the pupil who watched the game with his family.

World Cup made for perfect kick-off

Jason Smith, head of academy football at the school, established the team in November.

They have only played one game against another Dubai outfit so far, but have more matches planned in the new term.

“The World Cup didn't have any massive impact on my decision to start this team but it's just been lucky that it coincided with the World Cup," said Mr Smith.

"The whole thing with Morocco doing really well really inspires them to kick on.

"Because the boys are just 10 years old, we talked about how, in 12 years' time, they could be playing at a World Cup and representing the UAE.

"The good thing is because the boys are such a young age, I've got a lot of times to mould them and hopefully help them to realise their dreams.”

Mr Smith wants to nurture future Emirati football talent and aims to help the pupils play against as many schools as possible.

His intention is ensure any Emirati who is at their school and wants to be involved in the squad can do so easily.

Updated: December 08, 2022, 3:34 AM