A panel discussion in progress on the sidelines of the UAE Pro League Development Forum
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Former Barcelona captain and Spain World Cup winning team player Andres Iniesta emphasised on the importance of discipline and hard work to achieve the goals of life.
Iniesta was speaking on the sidelines of the UAE Pro League Development Forum. Iniesta has been very closely associated with the UAE. He often comes to the country for vacation and for other professional engagements.
“It is a pleasure for me to speak at this forum. Thank you very much for calling me. I have a very old association with UAE football. First time I visited the country was during the U-20 World Cup. It was a very nice experience,” said Iniesta.
“There is always room for the improvement. Each club needs to work. Each player needs to improve himself at the macro level to bring about the big change as a whole,” he added.
Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona squad for almost one-and-a-half decade. He played more than 400 games with the Spanish giants and also won nine Spanish League titles, six Copa Del Ray and seven Spanish Super Cup during his stint with Barcelona.
He is one of the most decorated Spanish footballers of all time. He was also a part of the Spanish national team, which won the World Cup in 2010. He has also won U-20 World Cup and other Club World Cup and Euro Championship in 2008 and 2012 with his national team.
In fact it was he, who grabbed a pass from Cesc Fabregas and latched it into the corner of the net to hand Spain their first and the only World Cup. His trophy-laden cabinet is the testimony of his stature as a footballer and a captain.
“If you have the commitment and attitude you can learn and help your team-mates as well. If you are ready to do all these things, then you can improve your performance.
“If we can understand that we can always learn new things every day with our team-mates and coaches, then gradually that will improve the performance of individual players, which will surely have an impact on their clubs as well. And the league will become more competitive which will raise the standard of football in the country.
“We should try to create an environment where every player is involved. We should try to help and support young players. If we have this mentality, then it will help the team to grow.
“If you have a goal in life. If you want to achieve something in life, be it in football or any other aspect. You have to be disciplined and work hard in order to achieve that dream.
“You have to learn new things and take care of yourself and your body. You should be professional in approach and be surrounded by the professionals, who can help you achieve all those things in life,” he emphasized.
“If you start working on your personal development at an early age, chances are better that you will be able to achieve them. Many players, who were picked up by their clubs in the early age, went on to become big stars,” he apprised
Meanwhile, Al Nasr coach said: “To bring more fans to the stadium, we need to do the marketing more aggressively and make the league more popular.”
Al Dhafra’s Moroccan coach Badr Al Din Al Idrisi also shed light on how UAE should focus on garnering home-grown talent with a long term objective for the national team.
“I have spent a lot of time in the UAE. I noticed a lot of foreign players in the UAE Pro League. The more the foreign players play it means the less opportunity for the local players.
“We should try and focus on the home-grown talent. I have seen there are a lot of local players who have great potential. We were one of the best and strongest teams in the Arabian Peninsula. Players like Ali Mabhkout who were picked up by Al Jazira in the early age have become UAE legends today because of the right training at the right time.
“He is one of the best strikers in the pro league today, better than many foreign recruits. Players like Mabkhout and Amoory were good enough to play in one of the European leagues in German, Spanish or Premier League.
“I am from Morocco and we work on the players from a young age. And we saw the result in the recently concluded World Cup in Qatar. In the UAE, we have infrastructure and very talented coaches. So we should have academies for every age group to develop local talent who can play in the national team later on,” he advised.