Football clubs have significant value for the players and coaches. It’s a place for them to escape the pressure and thoroughly enjoy the stress-relieving environment.
A youth football clubs’ purpose is to help the youth understand the world around them, build new friendships, and meet up with new people. It helps football communities grow more robust.
Alliance Football Club is a home-grown football club in Dubai and is famous for treating its members with incredible detailed attention and value on and off the pitch. Knowing the worth of their members, they have made their players, coaches and other staff vaccinated.
We spoke to the club’s founder Mehran Rowshan.
Mehran has been in the youth coaching industry for more than 20 years. He has coached thousands of kids through his unique coaching programmes in Dubai.
Hi Mehran! First of all, tell us what was the primary purpose of the Alliance Club and how has it evolved since the beginning?
Alliance was born to give kids the needed quality coaching in early 2015, and we have since moved to become one of the leading youth clubs in the Middle East.
Can you tell us three distinctive qualities of Alliance Club that make it unique, especially for young players?
While we’re proud of our football education quality, I’d say we do what we can to help our players to accelerate their personal development. When possible, we expect excellence from our students, such as being punctual, turning up in the complete kit all the time and showing respect towards everyone.
We are not here to solve our players’ problems; instead, we teach them how to become problem solver. They can make as many wrong decisions as possible as long as they develop their decision-making skills and learn along the way.
#StriveToProgress mindset, which means regardless of any short-term pain and disappointments, focus on taking tiny micro-steps towards reaching your long-term targets.
What was the reaction of your players & coaches when they returned to training after the COVID-19 lockdown?
It’s been a challenging time for everyone. Our players were cautious about returning to a team sport, but in the end, as human beings, we are a resilient species and always find a way to adapt to a new way of living. The coaches were thrilled but, at the same time, careful to ensure our players are in a safe environment.
You kept the players attached to the club during the lockdown. Why?
We see kids who have been isolated inside their homes for months. Some of them are the only child without any siblings, which means minimal social interactions with others.
The covid-19 pandemic is a problem; instead of locking kids away inside the house, we need to educate them on dealing with this new way of life going forwards. As educators, it is part of our roles to support kids and instil the importance of finding the “solution” to the “problem”.
We encourage our players to stay active and step away from their iPhones & iPads screens to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing, whether that’s an exercise in the garden or a quick socially distanced walk around the block.
We are slowly returning to our everyday lives, so what are your thoughts about it?
I’d say being able to train again without safety concerns. We’ve been carefully training for Ten months now, and I’m proud to say that we haven’t had any cases inside the club, which is essential as we want to make sure our boys and girls are training in a safe environment.
We’ve had our staff vaccinated now to add another layer of protection too.
How did the concept for an eco-friendly club come about?
We see ourselves beyond a football club and more of an educational organisation. You’d be surprised to see how deep you can connect with a child through football; it’s a powerful tool!
Almost a decade ago, I noticed how much plastic waste was being created from our football sessions while coaching at a well-known club. I realised that we could not achieve anything without educating our players about our behaviour’s environmental impacts.
When I started Alliance Football Club in 2015, I decided to give our players a stainless-steel water bottle and ban single-use plastic bottles inside the club. Most parents embraced the idea and supported us, which made a notable impact on our long-term objective. Currently, we have kids as young as three years old who attend the training sessions with their eco-friendly bottles. We also stopped using paper inside the club and turned off the unnecessary floodlights during training.
The mission is to show our players that every small action counts towards respecting mother nature and making a more significant difference for the planet’s future.
What did you want to achieve with Alliance Club, and have you achieved it yet?
We’re halfway to our goal. We’ve achieved our initial target of eliminating the use of plastic bottles inside the club. Alliance Football Club’s players save approximately 80,000 plastic bottles per season simply by using their Alliance stainless steel bottles.
We make sure that our students are mindful of the impact of their decisions on the environment. A simple change of behaviour can make all the difference in the child’s long-term character development.
When we play outside the club, players instantly notice the number of plastic bottles on the pitch. This means our boys and girls are more self-aware and proactively making better sustainable decisions.
We also provide our players’ families with reusable tote bags, which can be utilised for shopping, going to the gym or exercise classes, and even taking to sleepovers.
In your club, you focus on the #AllianceGives initiative. What is its significance for the club and the students?
It’s huge! It teaches our kids the importance of giving back whenever the opportunity arises.
We have collected and distributed around 15,000 football kits over the last six years to underprivileged kids in Africa. The #AllianceGives initiative began six years ago when we shipped our first batch of donations to Ethiopia. We are delighted to have distributed the donations to kids in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.
The beauty of the #AllianceGives initiative is that everything is done by ourselves, and our players can see how underprivileged children in Africa are using their kits.
Share three qualities that make a player a fine football player?
I’d say that our club values apply to being a good footballer too:
- Humility; to keep your feet on the ground regardless of what you’ve achieved.
- Team player; can you put the interests of the team before yourself? Being able to contribute individually for the team to function at its best, collectively.
- Hard work; to give it everything you’ve got regardless of how talented or skilled you are. To push yourself to the next level every day!
What do you think is the importance of team empowerment between players? How Alliance coaches play the part to support their students for it?
The environment can either facilitate or discourage interactions amongst players. I would say that the environment is the most crucial element in player development.
Over the past few years, we have prioritised our environment over anything else. Sometimes it meant that we had to let go of a member who didn’t fit into our healthy environment. The culture of the club cultivates the character of its players. Once you create the culture within the team’s environment, it can only promote all of your club’s values.