Dubai: Manchester City star Phil Foden has spoken to one of his former coaches, who is now based in the UAE, about the importance of City Football Schools’ Talented Player Programme which is currently in operation across Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
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As part of City Football Schools’ 10-year anniversary celebrations, Foden conducted a call with Lewis Childs, who coached the midfielder when he was just starting out on his football journey and now oversees the Talented Player Programme in the UAE.
The two men go back a long way, with Childs helping to guide a young Foden at the Manchester City Academy in the UK in his early years, although even at such a young age, it was clear he had plenty of promise.
“I first worked with Phil at Under-7 and Under-8 level in Manchester, and he was an obvious talent,” explained Childs, a Uefa ‘A’ License coach who has been with City Football Schools in the UAE for eight years.
“What stood out, even back then, was his fantastic attitude. He’s a great character and he has a natural talent which he has made the most of. People are now really starting to see what he’s capable of, and that’s all down to his work ethic and attitude,” he added.
The Talented Player Programme focuses on helping young players aged 11-14 to develop and fulfil their potential through a combination of advanced coaching techniques and competitive matches both locally and internationally, with the standout performers earning the chance to train with various City Football Group clubs around the world, including Manchester City and New York City.
Foden, one of the Premier League’s brightest young talents, offers some important words of advice for the aspiring UAE players.
“I think the main point is to enjoy it at the young ages and have a smile on your face, that’s what I did growing up,” the 20-year-old said.
“It’s important that you have your own personality on the pitch and try to express yourself as much as possible. I’m looking forward to seeing the Talented Player Programme and watching how the players progress,” he added.
Having known Foden since he was a young boy, and watched his journey closely, Childs isn’t surprised with the midfielder’s progression to the Manchester City first team. “Phil’s very humble, a local lad and he comes from a great family,” he noted.
“He’s been given great support by the club and the coaching staff down the years, and he’s taken his opportunity. I still speak to some of the coaches in Manchester now and they say he hasn’t changed at all — he just loves football,” he added.
Having been born in Manchester himself, Childs is a huge City fan, and he’s now looking forward to helping some of the aspiring footballers across the UAE fulfil their potential via the Talented Player Programme as City Football Schools celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
“We’re all super proud of where we’ve come from,” he said.
“The football structure in the UAE has really developed and we’re delighted to have played our part, providing opportunities for the local community with comprehensive programmes which are very inclusive. The Talented Player Programme is hugely exciting because it provides a platform for the development of young players.
“It’s up to the players to grasp the opportunity and if they do, what an amazing story. We will have given them a fantastic Manchester City experience right here in the UAE,” he added.
To be in with a chance of being selected for the Talented Player Programme, which is open to boys aged 11-14, players must upload a video showcasing their football skills to www.mancity.com/talented-player-program.