My Opinion of Arsenal Soccer School Dubai 12 comments

Every Friday, for the last 2 years, our Fridays revolved around Arsenal Soccer School. From early morning until early afternoon, it was all about soccer. Big K loved every sweat dripping moment of it, but I wasn’t as impressed.

My Opinion of Arsenal Soccer School Dubai

Now here is my honest opinion of ASSD. I don’t have any ill will towards the coaches or the program, but I think there are so many things inherently wrong with it. Things may have changed since they got a new head coach, so I’ll preface the following review by saying my opinions are valid from 2010-2012.

And to be fair, we wouldn’t rule out going back to ASSD in the future.

1. Facilities – For most of the year the boys are playing in the direct sun and blistering heat. There is no cover over the field or any shade whatsoever for players. In fact, I remember times when it was so hot, the coaches would take the kids inside the locker rooms for a “chat” during practice.

This is Dubai…the heat and harsh weather aren’t unexpected. This is a major flaw in my opinion…especially when down the road Dubai Sports City has a massive indoor facility for their soccer school.Arsenal Soccer School Dubai

2. Coaching – The coaches are enthusiastic and good with the kids. However there are too many kids in each group. Most of the time the kids are horsing around in line while they wait their turn to do a drill.

If the groups were smaller, they would get more touches on the ball and stay focused. But I’m just a soccer mom…what do I know?

3. Player Development – Training sessions are open to everyone, but ASSD also hand picks boys for their development squad. The best boys from the training sessions are chosen to represent ASSD in tournaments throughout Dubai.

This is where I think ASSD fails at the “everyone plays” concept that should reign supreme in sports programmes for kids. Don’t think I’m one of “those” moms who whines about everything that doesn’t go in their child’s favor because I also think it hurts the elite players (which Big K is not). If they stuck with just developing elite players, they would do a great service to those kids. But instead they try a mix of the two and it doesn’t work out well.

Like the time one of the development squad players asked Big K if he was playing in the game after practice. I happened to know about it because my friend’s son is on the development squad. But I chose not to tell him about it because I didn’t want him to think about it during training.

Kids who just love to play (like Big K) don’t get the attention they need to grow and elite players (like my friend’s son) don’t get the advanced training or playing time they deserve. They’ve tried to find a middle ground for everyone, but I think it’s to the detriment of all. 🙁

ASSD-Player-Eval4. Attention to Detail – This is really nitpicky and I’m sure people will roll their eyes at this. At the end of each 10-week course, players are given a simple evaluation. There are 5 categories in which the coach checks off a box of “Outstanding,” “Good,” “Satisfactory” or “Needs Work.”

It seemed like the coaches never took care in checking off the boxes and there were never any personal comments. It literally just seemed like something they did to check off their “To Do” list. Honestly, it was pretty weak. If you aren’t going to put your full effort into it, then don’t do it at all.


If your child goes to a soccer school in Dubai, are you happy with the way it’s run?


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12 thoughts on “My Opinion of Arsenal Soccer School Dubai

  • Janice

    We thought of putting our son at Arsenal soccer school but chose Barcelona instead. Nothing to do really with how the football school was run but more that he is a fan of Barcelona FC in real life. They run a great program there and all the children I know are happy there.

  • John Oladunjoye

    Hello, My name is Mr John, a soccer scout from nigeria i scout from
    nigeria football academy and premiership
    Football clubs in Nigeria, i have alot of young talented players in
    nigeria that are ready for trails in abroad, am searching for .
    agent/club to collaborate with or to give my players trial out to showcase.
    their skill and place them on trial with any team of your choice and you.
    will also be able to manage my players and get them clubs either in the.
    amateur, semi professional or professional level where they can grow in their.
    skills and games. Please I would like you to place these players where they.
    can be guanratee of playing football and for them to know that they are in.
    good hands.i know is good to have african player like nigeria to develop team.
    i will be happy if you can invite all the players for trail
    we also intrested in tournaments and summer camp.
    nigeria are very good in any trail.
    hope to hear from you.

  • Suz

    Below average coaching… Huge groups of players & expensive.
    Their best coaches have left in past year. Sad to say this but their head coach has no knowledge or interest in coaching children. Hugely commercial institution…
    We left Arsenal after 3 years and have joined a new academy which is ran by one of ex arsenal coaches and have no regrets so far! The only regret we have is why we wasted couple of years of our time there!

    • Mio | Third Culture Family

      Hi Suz, it’s sad to hear that things are going downhill there. I hope they turn it around…they have fantastic facilities. I think it’s one of the few academies that exclusively have training on natural grass pitches.

      Glad to hear you are happy to have made the move to Alliance FC w/ Mehran. He was definitely one of the standout coaches at Arsenal Soccer School and all the kids loved/respected him.

      • Suz

        Mio, me and my husband have been supporting Arsenal for 20+ years. Its a shame to see the downfall of their Dubai branch.
        Yes there are not many places who train on natural grass pitches! The facilities at 7s is amazing!
        My son trains on natural pitch with Alliance FC, I am extremely satisfied with our move and have been recommending it to other parents too! I also noticed there are waiting lists for few age categories with Alliance! which shows how people appreciate quality!

  • Talhah Ahmed

    Hello there. I have always aspired to play football professionally. Unfortunately i never came across with any credible being who could help me. If you provide that please let me know.

    Awaiting your earliest reply.

    Thanking You