This Emirati football coach trains children of 50 nationalities


A graduate in real estate and urban planning from the UK, Al Dhiyebi’s day-time job is managing shopping malls with Aldar Properties.

The great passion for sport inspired an Emirati youth to train children in developing their football talent. He opened a training academy in Abu Dhabi six years ago to provide football lessons to the youngsters. For Omar Al Dhiyebi, keeping the kids active in their free time is also a form of giving back to his community.

Al Dhiyebi, a football coach and managing director of Regional Sports Football Academy and Club, has dedicated his time to training hundreds of children and giving them regular exercises that keep them physically fit.

His football academy, located in Khalifa City A, trains children of various nationalities, including boys and girls. From the age of four to 18, these youngsters attend training sessions three to five days a week. The academy has about 500 children of over 50 nationalities, including children of determination.

Emirati youth Hamad, who suffers from Down syndrome, is among the children attending the training. Very passionate about football, Hamad had approached Al Dhiyebi four years ago after he was rejected by other football academies. Besides looking different from other children, Hamad was overweight. But Al Dhiyebi accepted him and trained him separately until he gained fitness, basic football skills and confidence before he gave him chance to play with other children.

Al Dhiyebi’s decision has changed the life of Hamad, who later became part of the UAE Special Olympics team in the recent games. Hamad has also made many friends and gained self-confidence. “Nothing makes me happy than making a difference in a person’s life, especially children,” said Al Dhiyebi, 30.

A graduate in real estate and urban planning from the UK, Al Dhiyebi’s day-time job is managing shopping malls with Aldar Properties. But he finds time to train the youngsters along with his coaching team every evening.

“I have had a great passion for football since childhood. I wanted to become a professional footballer,” he said, adding that because of the busy schedule at school, he couldn’t pursue the sports career. That’s why I decided to open a football academy to help develop talents and improve the health of children. I want to see children from my academy joining big football clubs,” said Al Dhiyebi.

Though the kids’ parents pay a reasonable annual fee to facilitate their training, for Al Dhiyebi, providing football lessons to these youngsters is not a business but a hobby and lifestyle. “I started this football academy back in 2013 because of the love for the game. I love seeing the kids happy and healthy,” he said.

Al Dhiyebi, the fourth among five siblings, said unlike in his early years when technology had not advanced, teens were spending their free time playing football and other sports activities. But today’s kids spend most of their free time on smartphones. “I want to bring the old days back. I am attracting kids to do sports during their free time so that they don’t get addicted to video games and social media,” said Al Dhiyebi, adding that more than 1,000 kids have passed through his academy.

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