Sharjah youngsters on the March

Author: Liam Dickson

Coaches at Sharjah Schoolboys believe that their U14/15’s victory at last month’s My Football Cup is proof that the work being done in training is paying off.

They were crowned champions following a 3-1 triumph over GC United at Jebel Ali School. 

But for a team that rarely play competitive matches or participate in tournaments, Coach Tim March believes the result is secondary to the actual performance of the players. 

He said: “It was wonderful to witness how the guys played and behaved at a fantastic event.

“Everything they did reflected our core principles relating to the holistic growth and development of young players – they were a true credit to themselves and our process.”

March firmly believes that coaching the mental side of the game and nurturing players training ability is fundamental in developing talent for the future – although, he admits, this doesn’t guarantee success at a young age.

“Many of the group are showing a crucial understanding of the need to switch from pure ball orientation to one which begins with positional sense, game intelligence and spatial awareness,” he said. 

“Though such a focus on quality and process may not necessarily manifest itself in short-term match results, it will undoubtedly yield better opportunities for long-term growth and future performance gains once aspects of physical development begin to even out.”

However, his young team’s performance at the My Football Cup proved to be an overwhelming success; they scored 14 goals and conceded just four across their five matches.   

Understandably, the players were full of pride with how they performed on the day, and how they were able to harness what they’d learned on the training ground and apply it during competition.

14-year-old midfielder Frederick March said: “Winning the My Football Cup is probably the biggest football achievement of my life.

“I felt relieved, because we have trained so hard and we applied what we’ve learned during the tournament.”

Similarly, playmaker Muneeb Munad, 14, said: “We played against top opposition, but with great team spirit and the help of our coach we were able to beat them.

“The tournament was an experience we won’t forget, the staff were nice and the facilities were great, but the best thing about the tournament was the atmosphere.”

Their entertaining ‘possession with purpose’ style of play won many admirers during the tournament, not least former African player of the year Freddy Kanoute, who was full of praise for the team after seeing them play.

And now, with success under their belt and compliments about their style of football, the team are excited to kick-on and see how far they can go.

Striker Fikrat Gahramanov, 12, said: “There is always room to improve.

“We’ve won the cup, so now we have to work harder and become better players. We have to keep in mind that there is no limit.”

The youngest player on the team, nine-year-old Abdullah Mennad – who competed against players five years older during the tournament – said: “This team will go very far.

“There will be more success in the future if we keep training hard.”

It is clear that the players have all bought into Coach March’s philosophy, and that they are all dedicated to pushing themselves individually and collectively.

This attitude is encapsulated by Zaheer Jami, 14, who plays on the left wing.

He said: “No matter what you don’t quit, rather you train more.

“If you train lazy and don’t put all your effort and heart into the game, you will play lazy and bring the team down with you.”