ABU DHABI, The UAE Pro League launched several strategic initiatives focused on elevating the Emirati football standards and discussed a set of proposed amendments to its competitions during the annual technical development workshop for the 2021-2022 season on Sunday evening.

UAEPL board member and Chairman of the Technical Committee, Hassan Taleb Al Marri, opened the workshop, which was held at Rixos Premium Dubai JBR hotel with participation from club representatives, by affirming that it aligns with the UAE Pro League’s strategy for continuous development through collaborating with the clubs who are the UAEPL’s partners. He added that special emphasis was placed on the technical aspect of the game which represents a key factor to improving the professional system.

Al Marri added, "We are happy to meet today during the Holy Month of Ramadan in the UAE, the land of safety and goodness, as we continue to work together and eye further success in alignment with the UAE Pro League’s strategy."

He stated "The workshop focuses on developing the technical side of football, which is the most important aspect of the sport. Therefore, we seek to study and analyse the technical aspects every season according to comprehensive scientific and practical approaches that aim to uncover best practices. It will benefit Emirati football within the comprehensive framework for sports which goes beyond the notions of winning and losing and rather seeks to build an athlete who can represent his country with determination and pride on the global stage."

In turn, Competitions and Operations Director, Taha Ezzat, delivered a detailed presentation on the players’ participation and their age ranges, before discussing the proposed initiatives and amendments for the next season.

The annual workshop focused on four major segments in its review of the technical reports of the ongoing season.

The first segment highlighted the significant drop in the average age of the Arabian Gulf League players during the current season, which stood at 26.4 years compared to 28.5 years in the 2018-2019 season. This is the lowest average age compared to other international leagues including the Italian Serie A which has an average age of 26.6 years and the Spanish LaLiga with its average age of 27 years. On the regional level, the Saudi Professional League has an average age of 28.6 years. The average age drop could also be reflected in the increased participation of young UAE nationals (born in 1998 and after) in the Arabian Gulf League.

The presentation also reviewed other statistics and comparisons between the league teams including passing accuracy, shooting accuracy, long pass accuracy, and crossing accuracy.

The second segment saw the discussion of 17 recommendations that were submitted by clubs. Several of these proposals were recommended for approval, while others were widely discussed during the workshop.

Part three of the workshop focused on evaluating the current season’s initiatives including the new format of the Arabian Gulf Cup. It was recommended the current format of the competition be maintained, while not holding any of its matches during the FIFA international breaks and wiping out yellow cards ahead of the final.

It also recommended retaining the current format of the Arabian Gulf League U21. However, the matches will now be held one day after the Arabian Gulf League games, while opting to retain the current regulations concerning the "UAE Resident" category.

The fourth segment of the workshop discussed the strategic initiatives and the technical development of the UAE Pro League competitions. It focused on elevating the technical level of the competitions and improving competitiveness among teams as well as raising the clubs’ performances on the global level, which would have a positive impact on the technical, organisational, and marketing aspects of the competitions. This will be done through a short-term plan that focuses on first teams, U-21 teams, and clubs and a long-term plan that includes the competitions of younger age groups.

The UAE Pro League also shared possible solutions for the most prominent challenges facing clubs and players. The proposed recommendations comprised six main segments including the full application of professionalism, increasing the number of training sessions to raise technical standards, improving the competitions’ technical level, enhancing the clubs’ and national team’s performances on the global level, and introducing a pension scheme to provide players with job security.

The proposed mechanism for the pension scheme includes creating a job for professional footballers and coordinating with the relevant authorities and the General Pension and Social Security Authority to pass a law for footballers’ retirement. The proposed scheme would include three different categories, one compulsory scheme and two voluntary schemes, with the insurance money being deducted from the players' salaries based on their chosen categories. For players to qualify for the pension schemes, they have to play for a minimum of 15 years. According to the proposed scheme, no player should be registered in the first team squad unless he has a professional status and does not have any other job. Meanwhile, players who have other jobs can be registered as amateurs with the U-21 teams.

Source: Emirates News Agency