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.
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.
4. 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?