Manchester City have underlined their plans for international development by revealing details of the growth of their football school in Abu Dhabi.
The Premier League champions’ coaching centre in the home emirate of their owners has doubled in size since it opened a year ago and they now boast it to be the biggest in the region.
The MCFC School of Football caters for 550 boys and girls aged between five and 18 and is run by five coaches on weekday evenings and Saturdays.
The success of the centre, based at Zayed Sports City, could see it become the blueprint for further international projects.
A statement read: “The success of the MCFC School of Football in Abu Dhabi is fast becoming the benchmark for our coaching excellence internationally, with the club currently exploring other destinations around the world for future expansions.”
Coaching at the school takes the form of 10-week courses, all of which follow the same training techniques and philosophies of the first team.
Midfielder Javi Garcia has visited the centre during the international break over the past week along with former player, and current football development executive, Patrick Vieira.
Vieira said: “Every time I visit the School of Football, I am amazed at the growing number of kids wanting to learn how to play the City way and how much talent they have at such a young age.
“It’s so important to have the correct coaching at a young age, as these early principles and values can ultimately end up driving, guiding and defining you as both a player, and as a person.
“Watching the kids develop new football and interpersonal skills on and off pitch is what the City School of Football is all about.”
City were taken over by Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 and their huge investment brought accelerated progress culminating in last year’s title win.
Their investments off-field have also been significant, and community-focused.
Most strikingly a new multi-million pound training complex and academy adjacent to the Etihad Stadium will open next year.
Included in the overall plans for the site were local regeneration initiatives. Land has been donated for a new sixth-form college and public leisure centre to be built next to the complex.