ABU DHABI // Majed al Mansoori has clearly benefited from a coaching clinic with Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given this week after he inspired his team to victory in the British International School football tournament yesterday.
The Emirati student was one of 15 pupils hand-picked from the school in Abu Dhabi to attend the Etihad Airways Manchester City Soccer School.
He was clearly paying attention to the advice of Given, capped more than 100 times by the Republic of Ireland.
After scoring the equaliser in the final for Bisad United against Bisad FC — two five-a-side teams from Year 5 and 6 — al Mansoori swapped his shooting boots for the goalkeeping gloves in the shoot-out and made crucial saves to hand his side victory.
"Football is my favourite pastime and I play it almost every day and at every opportunity I get, either at school or with my friends," said al Mansoori, the Bisad United captain.
Judging by his dribbling skills, superb control and an all-round contribution for his team, football clearly comes naturally to the Year 6 student.
He said he has polished his skills by watching and playing, and hopes to one day emulate Mohammed al Shehhi, the UAE international forward, and play for Al Wahda.
"I don't have any family members or relatives either playing or supporting Wahda," al Mansoori said. "It is just a team that I liked all the time. I like all their players, and just started to follow them and turned into a big fan of the club."
Al Mansoori's side included Rashid al Qamzi, Hamad al Ameri, Mohammed Zayed, Nasir Keenan, Farid Oladepo and Zoe Renganathan, the defender and the only girl to feature in the final.
"I don't have any ambition to play football at a competitive level but this experience and my teammates will always remain as one the chapters of my school days," she said.
Al Mansoor and fellow Emiratis al Qamzi and al Ameri were on target from the spot to win the final of a tournament that is the brainchild of Adam Stewart, the coach and teacher for special needs.
"The school is in only its second year and [we] have over 600 students," Stewart said. "The in-house competition provides us with an opportunity to select a team to play against other schools or participate in interschool competitions. We started with Year 3 and 4 and have now completed Year 5 and 6. The next one is planned for the Year 7 to 9 students. We have about 100 students in each of these categories and they love the competition."