Ghana legend Abedi Pele is willing to lend all the help he possibly can to assist in the development of football in the UAE and the Middle East region.
“Yes, we could start by bringing in my club here as part of an exchange programme. With the Fifa World Cup coming to Qatar in 2022, this area has shown a huge, huge potential, and we would love to help out,” Pele said while attending the announcement of the 7th Dubai International Sports Conference on Monday.
Born Abedi Ayew, the African great, now 47, was one of the early African footballers who ventured out of the continent to ply their trade in the lucrative European leagues while playing for Lille and Olympique Marseille in France.
He went on to captain Ghana, and was given the name ‘Pele’ in recognition of his superior ability that evoked comparisons to the Brazilian great, Pele.
Three of his sons, Ebrahim, Andre and Jordan also became internationals for Ghana, in which Ebrahim and Andre got selected for the Fifa World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
Pele now has his own professional club — Nania FC — that has worked its way up from Division IV to Division II, winning the FA Cup and Super Cup last season.
This week, Pele was in Dubai to back the setting up of GEA World Middle East dealing with everything connected to football, from player transfers to training camps and friendly matches.
“I believe that an organisation likes ours [GEA World] comes in to play a big role in the development of football in the Middle East. We can bring teams, transfer players, organise matches and do everything in the world of football in a very professional manner,” Pele said.
“And now that the World Cup is coming to this region, it is paramount to have things done in a professional manner. I believe that this is a very serious organisation that wants to succeed and we are here looking beyond 2022,” he said.
“We are here to straighten things and make them smooth and help in the development of the game in various areas. It is important that the professionalism that we have in Europe gets passed on to this region,” he added.
“We are already thinking about bringing in players and teams from Ghana to foster exchange programmes. We will bring players here and they can make a start, just like I did and then move on to tougher leagues. I don’t mind bringing in my team as well. It’s all part of the package to ensure the region benefits. It’s going to be a huge package.”
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