Classifieds powered by Gulf News

Al Sarkal the common factor behind UAE success

Administrator with a vision now faces challenge of AFC presidency

Gulf News

It’s a happy coincidence that Yousuf Yagoub Al Sarkal, the Chairman of the UAE FA, has always been a part of all the major football achievements in the history of the country.

At a time when the UAE is celebrating the success of the senior football team in the 21st Gulf Cup in Bahrain, it is only fair that Al Sarkal gets his fair share of the praise, appreciation and applause.

The current lot, who proved to be the most successful team in the history of the country started by winning the GCC Junior Championship in 2006 which was formed by the FA board of directors, then headed by Al Sarkal.

When the current batch went on win the Asian Youth Championship in 2008, Al Sarkal may have resigned from the presidency but all the members of the new board of directors unanimously thanked him for his efforts and hard work.

Al Sarkal was replaced by Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi, a former Vice President, who continued the same policy of laying great emphasis to the junior and youth teams. The team went on to the finals of the Fifa Youth World Cup and did brilliantly before graduating to become the UAE Olympic team and won the silver medal at the Asian Games in China in 2010 and won the GCC Under-23 Championship in Qatar.

Al Sarkal came back again to win the presidency of the FA and and under his tenure, the team qualified for the the 2012 London Olympic Games before winning the Gulf Cup title. It was the second Gulf Cup for the UAE under the presidency of Al Sarkal as they also won for the first time in 2007 at home in Abu Dhabi.

Even when the UAE qualified for the finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Al Sarkal was the Secretary General of the FA.

The success of Al Sarkal’s administration was both on and off the field. When he was appointed as FA chairman in 2004, the budget of the FA was less than Dh20 million - it was increased to Dh25 million and then he took a revolutionary step by marketing the domestic competitions to swell the coffers of the association.

Al Sarkal was also a key brain behind introducing the professional league in the UAE.

Now, Al Sarkal is facing another challenge when he enters the AFC presidency elections in April. The football fraternity of the continent should give him a chance realise his vision on the big stage as well.