Al Ain: Football stars past and present kicked-off the country’s biggest schools festival on Monday, which will see over 75,000 children ‘adopt a nation’ ahead of next year’s Asian Cup in the UAE.

UAE national team players Mohanad Salem and Rayan Yaslam, along with Asian Cup ambassadors Zuhair Bakheet and Majed Abdullah attended the day with young football fans at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, as part of a football-led educational event. The school festival in Al Ain will be held on October 22 and 23 and is open to the public from 4pm to 10pm.

In the lead-up to the biggest Asian Cup in history, children across the UAE are honing skills in leadership and problem-solving through football. They are also being exposed to a new culture as each school prepares to welcome an adopted team throughout the tournament from January 5 to February 1.

The schools programme runs until the tournament launch in January with more classroom visits throughout the country along with a number of large-scale school festivals for youngsters and families.

The Dubai event will be October 28-29, Sharjah October 31 to November 1 and Abu Dhabi November 4-5. All events will be open for the public after 4pm.

With over 75,000 children taking part it is one of many community engagement programmes taking place ahead of the tournament that will see a million tickets available across 51 matches between January 5 to February 1.

Tickets are available via For more information on the schools’ festivals, email