Rangers Football Club have become the latest high-profile European club to set up an academy in the UAE.
European heavyweights Barcelona, Juventus, and Manchester City, along with La Liga, have already established academies in the country to develop local talent. And now, Scottish champions Rangers have joined the list with their academy at Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi.
To be inaugurated on September 5, the academy is supported by Rangers FC in partnership with CBF and will be open to boys and girls, with the academy also looking to promote the women's game in the region.
Coaches from Rangers Soccer Academy will be based in Abu Dhabi to oversee the sessions, while there will also be opportunities for young players to travel to Scotland to visit Ibrox and the Rangers Academy.
“We are delighted to have an internationally renowned academy at Al Forsan,” Sultan Mohammed Al Kaabi, chief executive officer of Al Forsan Holding Company, said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
“I’m very optimistic about this collaboration. I think this will take us to a different level internationally, having the infrastructure and the facilities.”
James Bisgrove, commercial and marketing director of Rangers FC, said it was an exciting moment for Rangers.
“We are very proud to be in this position,” he said. “For us, it’s a milestone moment. We are aware there are fan-based Rangers audiences already in the UAE.
“We took out first team here in January 2020. We had a fantastic experience in terms of training and in terms of the support we got. So the opening of the academy is a natural next step to develop that international partnership.”
The setting up of an academy in Abu Dhabi is the latest move in the Scottish club’s international strategy to expand into the Middle East. They already have partner clubs in Germany, the United States and India, as well as Soccer Academy collaborations with clubs across the globe.
“For the first time, Rangers FC will expand their global reach into the UAE with the launch of the Rangers Soccer Academy in Abu Dhabi,” Gary Gibson, head of Soccer Academies and international relations, said.
Chris Brown, managing director of CBF, said he is proud that Rangers are the first Scottish club to set up an academy in the UAE.
“We are delighted to agree to this partnership with a football club as prestigious and of the magnitude of Rangers FC,” he said.
“This partnership will serve to support the growth of the game in the UAE from a fantastic training facility at Al Forsan, which will enable some excellent opportunities for both boys and girls to receive top class coaching, competitive games and direct access to the fantastic resources Rangers FC can provide both in Abu Dhabi and Glasgow.”