DUBAI // The Dubai Schools Football Cup kicked off this weekend, with its organisers hoping the event will promote a healthy lifestyle, build confidence and encourage leadership qualities in children.
Hussein Murad, chief executive of sports marketing company Inspiratus, which organised the event, said the teenage players were at a critical stage in their lives and should be encouraged to exercise.
“We don’t want kids to stay at home playing video games or staying on social media websites, but we want them out, having fun, living healthily and learning how to be competitive,” he said. “At the same time, we’re building in them qualities essential to their development, such as focus, discipline, adaptability and team work.”
“These qualities, along with self confidence, they will need and use later on in life when they grow up and go off to work.”
Mr Murad said the competition is an opportunity to bring together children from different schools and nationalities, making it a learning experience.
“The children taking part in the Dubai Schools Football Cup come from all different backgrounds – from private schools and from public schools, and it’s all for free,” he said.
Khalil Mohamad, 13, from the National Charity School, said he had enjoyed the competition.
“I really like this game because it keeps me fit and allows me to have muscles,” he said. “I also think that it is a way to have fun with your friends and it encourages teamwork.”
Mohamad Walid, 13, a Syrian, also a pupil at the National Charity School, said he was confident his team would win.
“We’re here to have fun, but we are also here to win the cup. It will take collaboration and lots of teamwork, but we can do it.”
The returning champions girls’ team from St Mary’s Catholic School were preparing for their first game of the competition yesterday morning.
“We’re hoping for another win this year,” said player Charlene Dharmai, 14, an Indian. “I never thought I would be playing football, because when I first started I was very bad. However, we train twice a week, and the teammates have a special bond with another.”
Hashini Devendre, 15, from Sri Lanka said the sport was a great way to blow off steam with people whose company she enjoys.
“My teammates are great people, and there’s never tension between us. We might make fun of each other every once in a while, but we love each other,” she said. “This game allows us to let go, have fun and compete with other teams.”
For Khloe Marcela, 15, from the Philippines, the game is all about building self confidence.
“I used to be so shy and I really wasn’t comfortable in certain settings, but football has allowed me to be more confident,” she said. “Now when I’m on the field, I give it all I’ve got.”
The Dubai Schools Football Cup launched yesterday, with 2,000 pupils from 55 schools across Dubai taking part.
The finals take place on March 7. The grand prize is a trip to watch Manchester United play Manchester City at Old Trafford, and the chance to train with Manchester United coaches.