City's Laporte takes a selfie with City Football Schools youngsters. Image Credit: Organisers

Dubai: Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte has made a flying visit to the UAE to encourage youngsters at the City Football Schools programme as he continues his recovery from injury.

The defending champions’ star defender has missed a large portion of the season as City look to make it three Premier League titles on the trot, but he still had time to visit Abu Dhabi and boost the confidence of the next generation of players coming through the club’s system.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time meeting the kids during my visit to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “As a professional footballer, it is amazing to see so many young footballers here who are so passionate about the sport and it’s great to see them playing with such joy.

“The City Football Schools team is doing a splendid job in coaching the young footballers in this country. Improving as a footballer is important and coaching sessions like City Football School’s has provided a platform to learn and develop new skills and abilities that is based on the philosophy of Manchester City.”

Speaking of his rehabilitation and return to fitness after he suffered a knee injury in August, the Frenchman seemed optimistic.

“I am very working very hard to come back as soon as possible and have been working with my physio during my stay here in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“I have don’t have an exact date when I could be back. I hope it will be soon but it won’t be another two or three months when I can start playing.

“As a footballer, it is difficult when you suffer injuries but I will come back stronger. That is all I’m thinking about.

With City languishing behind Premier League leaders Liverpool this time around, Laporte has still not given up hope of a City comeback last season we was in a similar position where we were a few points behind Liverpool. There is still plenty of games to play in the season to make up the gap and finish first. We know it will be difficult because Liverpool are a good side but we will fight until the very end.

City legend Lescott praises UAE Youth Football

Joleon Lescott speaks with Racing Point's Sergio Perez at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Meanwhile, the increase in young boys and girls playing football right across the UAE has been praised by former City star Joleon Lescott.

It comes as efforts to get more youngsters in Sharjah active on the football pitch have proved a success — an initiative backed by Pulse FM radio.

Lescott, in the UAE to attend the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, won the Premier League twice with City and is now an ambassador and helps run the player loan system.

He said: “We have City Football Schools in the UAE and I have seen them grow over the years during my visits here and that is fantastic.

“It is vital that we attract as many boys and girls of all nationalities to play football and it’s great to see what Pulse FM Radio are doing in Sharjah.

“It is not just about what happens on the pitch as playing football has so many benefits in terms of developing young people in everything they do.”

Pulse FM Radio, part of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority, has been promoting healthy living and sport to young people in the emirate in the last year.

More boys and girls are now getting active and the station’s focus on youth will continue in the coming year.