They train at the British School in the capital, but the founding fathers of Abu Dhabi Thistle Football Club have brought more than a flavour of the United Kingdom to their burgeoning array of youth teams. The children who represent Thistle have a voracious appetite to play and learn the various skills of the world game. Thistle have assembled a cosmopolitan squad of over 120 kids since forming in 2003. They run boys' teams at U8, U10, U12, U14 and U16 level. They also have junior and senior girls' sides.
Archie Young and Ally McDonald are the Scotsmen who founded Thistle. They have watched it develop into a multinational club consisting of Emiratis and several Arab, African and European nations. "It has been great to see the development of all the new younger players. There is a real enthusiasm among the kids during coaching, and in games. We try to help them improve in a fun, competitive environment. I think the coaches and parents have enjoyed it as much as the players," says Young.
"We've managed to create a good atmosphere for all our youngsters, and a means of forming new friendships. The club has helped create a small community within Abu Dhabi which we are all proud of. "We plan to resume training in September. We are open to new players joining to strengthen our existing squads." Thistle have quadrupled in size over the past season, but are seeking to maintain and enhance interest due to families departing Abu Dhabi when the school term finishes this month. Their coaches all possess FA coaching certificates.
Thistle have linked up with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council to try to encourage more kids to get involved as well as continue their close association with the Youth Leagues run in Dubai at the Jebel Ali Soccer Academy. They aim to play matches against other sides in the Gulf region and Europe. "Obviously, attracting sponsors is vital, but especially at amateur grassroots level," says Young. "We are seeking interested sponsors to help fund the club. We would be keen to speak to anyone who can help us."
Thistle plan to run a senior amateur team as part of their development next season. They are also seeking to start a Thistle Tots section for five to six year olds. Any interested players or sponsors can contact Abu Dhabi Thistle FC on firstname.lastname@example.org or find details at www.abudhabithistlefc.com.