Pep Guardiola said “One thing my career has taught me is that to become the best player or manager you can possibly be, you need to play against the best”. This weekend will see the second edition of the City Cup in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
96 teams, in a number of age categories, play over two days at Zayed Sports City. Youth hopefuls come from all across the globe in the hopes of winning prizes such as special coaching sessions and, for some, a trip to the Etihad Stadium.
There will be around 1,300 hopefuls, aged from eight to fourteen with the final games taking place on Saturday. Leroy Sane, was excited about the tournament. When asked about it while on Manchester City’s warm weather training, the German international had nothing but positive things to say.
This tournament is just a small sampling of the effort put into developing the sport in the GCC (Gulf Corporation Council) region. The GCC consist of all Arab states in the Persian Gulf, with the exception of Iraq, and is an untapped resource.
Next week, on the 26th, you’ll see the start of free coaching sessions. Learning the Manchester City way of playing football, children as young as five can participate. With our owners being from the region it is understandable they would want to improve the level of the sport in their own region.
I think the set up will be different, and probably more successful than our previous owners venture. Thaksin Shinawatra, the ex Thai Prime Minister had his National team come to Manchester to train. I also remember him signing a couple of Thai players to Manchester City.
Teerasil Dangda, Kiatprawut Saiwaeo and Suree Sukha all signed to the Academy in 2007. All three went straight out on loan thanks to work permit issues. The trio left without playing a game for either the first team, or the side they were loaned to.
The coaching on offer will help build on the philosophy and give them the chance to improve on their skills. It’s going to be open to both boys and girls but spaces are limited. It’s not about finding the Bahraini Neymar, Saudi Arabian Messi or even Kuwaiti Cristiano, although that would be a bonus. Instead it is about developing the sport in the region, fitness and the children making new friendships.