ABU DHABI // Rashid Majid stood on the sidelines showing off his skills in dribbling and juggling the ball as he waited for his turn to get on to the pitch to play for his school team in the inaugural Majid Junior Tournament.
The 10-year-old Emirati student from Ouabi Bin Kaabi School in Ras al Khaimah was one of more than 300 players in the Under 10 and U12 age group teams taking part in the six-a-side tournament over two days at the Zayed Sports City during the weekend.
"Inshallah, when I grow up, I want to play for the national team," Majid said. "But first, I want to join my hometown club Al Rams. I learnt to play football from my uncle, Ibrahim Rashid, who plays for Ras al Khaimah Club.
"This is the first time I have travelled to Abu Dhabi for a tournament and I really enjoyed it. For me, playing against teams from other emirates and against opponents that I have never played before is a new experience.
"In this competition there were lots of players from different countries and different schools. It was good competition. We played three matches, won one, drew one and lost one. It was great for me and my friends. I am already looking forward to returning next year."
The International School of Choueifat edged out Abu Dhabi's Al Rabeeh to win the U10 title while Dubai's Al Karama beat Al Mustaqbal of Sharjah 4-0 in the older age group final.
Erik Pessen, the coach of Glenelg School in Abu Dhabi, said the competition was an excellent platform for the youngsters to develop their skills and an event they would now be able to look forward to next year.
"We have been training for the whole year and played a few friendlies. So this was a new experience for our players and they have all enjoyed the outing," the New Zealander said.
One of his Emirati students, Eissa al Hashimi, 11, has similar views and he wants to improve his skills to one day play for Pro League club Al Jazira. "I scored three goals and made an assist in the three matches we played," he said.
"Like me, there are several young players with ambitions of playing for the local clubs. I have teammates from other countries and they too have similar dreams."
Mohammed al Qudsi, 11, from Jordan, is the goalkeeper for the International Community School in Abu Dhabi.
"Football is his favourite game and he was very excited when he was selected to play for the school team in this competition," said his father, Eyad, who was himself a goalkeeper during his playing days in his native Jordan.
"As an expatriate, I see it as a huge incentive and encouragement for the kids. I have had two great days watching my son and hundreds of children having a great time."
Ahmed al Riyami, an Emirati whose 11-year-old son, Abdulla, played for Al Rabeeh, said: "As a parent I feel so glad to watch kids, so many and from so many different nationalities, enjoying over the two days.
"It is also an excellent initiative from the Majid magazine, which has been in my household for more than 30 years, when I was myself a child and now a big hit with my children."
Fatima Saif, the editor in chief of Majid, said it was a great family day and they were proud to have organised such a strong community activity that promotes the importance of sports and healthy lifestyle for children.
"Every young person who took part today had a huge smile on their face when they left, and that is what means the most to us," she said.
The tournament drew 12 teams in the U10 competition and 16 in the U12 event from all over the Emirates.