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More than 800 Children Take Part in the UAE Football Association and Mubadala’s Inaugural Football Grassroots Festivals

The first “Grassroots Festivals,” held jointly by the UAE Football Association (UAEFA) and Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala), the official sponsor of the UAE National Teams and Exclusive Grassroots and Youth Development partner, drew over 800 children from all over the UAE, and offered a glimpse into the UAE’s future football stars.

02 May 2010

National Final in Zayed Sports City showcased promising young Emirati footballers

The first “Grassroots Festivals,” held jointly by the UAE Football Association (UAEFA) and Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala), the official sponsor of the UAE National Teams and Exclusive Grassroots and Youth Development partner, drew over 800 children from all over the UAE, and offered a glimpse into the UAE’s future football stars.

In September 2009, Mubadala signed a four year sponsorship agreement with the UAEFA to support the development of football in the UAE by ensuring that adequate infrastructure is available to nurture the UAE’s talent pool. Mubadala worked collectively with the Football Association and the Local education authorities to bring this year’s Grassroots Festivals to life.

The pilot grassroots and youth development program, which was launched in Abu Dhabi on April 18, and then travelled to Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah, culminated today in the National Festival played at the Zayed Sports City, where 160 children from the top schools from each of the four Emirates competed against one another.

Over the past two weeks leading up to the National Festival, boys and girls between the ages of six to twelve from 16 schools in the four participating Emirates were given hands on football instruction by FIFA accredited male and females coaches. Today, the National Festival brought together the top performing schools from the 4 regional festivals.

Due to the overwhelming interest and support from the local education authorities, plans are underway for the 2010/2011 festivals to include all seven Emirates and all 10 education zones as well as widen the age brackets to include kids under 8, under 10 and under 12. Next year’s program will develop more coaches adding to the 62 certified this year and also include separate festivals for girls which will be taught exclusively by female coaches.

Belhassen Malouche, FIFA and UAE FA Technical Consultant, said: “The Grassroots Festivals mark the first step in the development of a fully integrated national grassroots and youth development program that will allow for greater participation in football across the UAE. In addition to providing an opportunity for aspiring young footballers to enhance their skills, we envision these festivals to also become a primary platform to launch the UAE’s future football stars.”

“The reception amongst children and teachers for the inaugural Grassroots Festivals has been overwhelming. Our investment in football clearly extends beyond sponsorship; supporting youth development programs facilitates widespread community involvement in football and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Our partnership with football is intended for the long-term, and we look forward to supporting the growth of this program next year,” added Rashed Al Harmoodi, Assistant Manager at Mubadala and Football Sponsorship spokesperson.

Lifestyle educators and dieticians from the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre — a state-of-the-art facility specialising in Diabetes treatment, public health, training and research, wholly-owned by Mubadala Development Company — joined in the Grassroots initiative and interacted with the children and their families. “There is a worrying rise of type 2 diabetes in younger people. Much of this appears to be related to a more sedentary lifestyle, and simple steps such as an increase in physical activity and the adoption of a balanced diet can help reverse this trend,” said Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, ICLDC’s Medical & Research Director and Consultant Endocrinologist. Dr Maha said that the Grassroots Festivals perfectly complement the Centre’s “Diabetes–Knowledge–Action” public health awareness campaign, which is now in its third year.

About Mubadala Development Company>/h3>

Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) is a catalyst for the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi. Established and owned by the Government, the company’s strategy is built on the management of long-term, capital-intensive investments that deliver strong financial returns and tangible social benefits for the Emirate.

Mubadala brings together and manages a multi-billion dollar portfolio of local, regional, and international investments. The company partners with leading global organizations to operate businesses across a wide range of industry sectors including aerospace, energy and industry, healthcare, information communications and technology, infrastructure and real estate. By doing so, Mubadala accomplishes its mission to expand the economic base of the Emirate and contribute to the growth and diversification of the Abu Dhabi economy.

For more information about Mubadala, its partnerships and activities please visit http://www.mubadala.ae.

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