Just like in his performances for the Portugal national team, midfield legend Rui Costa showed perfect timing once again as he was on hand to launch Footlab Dubai — a footballing experience and destination — in Dubai Sport City on the eve of the kick-off of Euro 2020.
The AC Milan hero and Euro 2004 runner-up with Portugal, Costa’s skills are still revered across Europe, and he had plenty of fans on hand as he cut the ribbon to officially open Footlab at the ever-expanding Inspiratus Sports District (ISD).
The world’s first indoor football, entertainment and performance venue — think an amusement park, assault course, and fitness centre all rolled in to one — was abuzz with football fans of all ages taken aback by the immersive experience and scale of Footlab, which is rubbing shoulders with some of the highest regarded football, athletics, tennis and fitness academies in the region.
Then there was the guest of honour, Footlab founder Costa, who expressed his pride at seeing his vision become a reality.
“I am very happy to be here in Dubai, in a city that shares my love and passion for football. Dubai is the ideal venue for our first international Footlab. Football is my life and Footlab reflects my vision to bring a one-of-a-kind football experience to all football fans,” said Costa, who won the Serie A and Champions League with AC Milan during a trophy-laden career, at the official Footlab launch.
The concept of Footlab is to enhance the skills and fun of footballers of all ages in the UAE with non-stop action, cutting-edge technology, a focus on fitness and skills developments.
“We are all always improving and trying to achieve more and more," Cosat added." The beauty of Footlab is you don’t need to be a professional to enjoy this and gain from the facilities here. It is for all ages and talents. Our technology helps you keep track of your scores, times and crucially how you improve over time to become a fitter and better athlete — all while having fun, if you are challenging yourself or enjoying with a group of friends to compare scores.”
Hussein Murad, Managing Director of Footlab Dubai, added: “This is Dubai’s new entertainment destination, where all football fans can play, for the first time, like professionals, while having fun. Athletes will also be able to advance their most important football skills, powered by world-unique technology and AI. We invite the whole community and football fans from across the UAE and the region to the ultimate football experience at Footlab, where they can also host their next celebration, and have a great time.”
At one point during the event, Costa took part in some footvolley with young athletes, and for once his skills let him down and he apologised to his teammates with a laugh as a kick went astray (see above video). To be fair, his tailored suit and shoes were not exactly footballing attire.
He will be hoping his beloved Portugal will have their shooting boots at Euro 2020, which kicks off on Friday.
Footlab is now open at ISD in Dubai Sports City and is set on 2,000 sqm, with interactive zones for speed, skills, street soccer, footvolley stations, target zones and a five-a-side football pitch — offering real-time stats and standings. It is open seven days a week, Sunday to Wednesday 10am-10pm and Thursday to Saturday 10am-1am.