Abu Dhabi: New York City FC players gave coaching sessions to the UAE-based children at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City on Wednesday.
The youngsters, who all attend City Football Schools in the capital, were put through their paces by Jack Harrison, Rodney Wallace and Sean Johnson, who are all here as part of an Etihad Airways promotional tour. Following the session the players then answered questions on what life is like as a professional footballer.
Competing in Major League Soccer in the US, New York City FC is majority owned by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, through the City Football Group, which also owns England’s Manchester City and Australia’s Melbourne City.
New York City and England Under-21 winger Jack Harrison said: “It has been a great honour to be a part of the coaching session at City Football Schools in Abu Dhabi. The youngsters have been a delight to work with and are all very talented. The coaching set-up is very impressive and it is so important when you are starting out. Getting the basic skills right is a massive part of being a great player.
“The skills and knowledge that they are learning will be of huge value as they grow older, not only out on the football pitch but how they behave off it.”
Other players in attendance were US men’s national team keeper Sean Johnson and Costa Rica winger Rodney Wallace.
Wallace, who helped Costa Rica qualify for the 2018 World Cup but wasn’t part of their run to the quarter-finals at World Cup 2014, added: “It’s my first time in Abu Dhabi, it’s spectacular place. We have managed to see a lot of sights while we have been here, however it’s been fantastic to come and coach the young children here today. Being at New York City has taught me so much and I’m really happy I get the chance to pass what I have learnt on to the next generation.”
Robert, aged 9, one of the children taking part in the session said: “It was so great to be coached by the players from New York City today, it has taught me a lot and I really look up to them. I’ve always dreamt of what it would be like to be a professional footballer and I would like to follow in their footsteps when I grow up.”
City Football School’s head coach, Simon Hewitt, said: “It is fantastic to have such incredibly talented young players at City Football Schools. The New York City team has showed them what it takes to get to the top.
“Our aim is to develop skills, character and teamwork and having stars like Jack, Sean and Rodney with us for the day truly helps that.”
Away from the football field UAE fans also got to meet their heroes at an exclusive question and answer session at Southern Sun Hotel’s Blue Sky Lounge and Grill.