• Michel Salgado's football club now based within school's expansive campus
• Students and teachers set to benefit from specialised training and coaching
• New football pitch, padel tennis and padball courts added to school's facilities
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: High-quality football and sports in general are set to become a major focus at GEMS Winchester School – Dubai (WSD) thanks to a partnership between the school, sports services provider ESM and Fursan Hispania FC, the football academy owned by former Spain international and Real Madrid player Michel Salgado.
The five-year operational contract signed by all parties sees Fursan Hispania FC gain exclusive access to use WSD's two full-size pitches in the evenings for their club members and for their professional first team player training sessions. It also includes the construction of a brand new nine-a-side Astroturf football pitch complete with floodlights, two padel tennis courts and a padball court, all available for use by students at the school.
Fursan Hispania FC will run their specialised football academy, training camps and tournaments, as well as after-school programmes for WSD students. Teachers at the school, meanwhile, will also benefit from continuing professional development (CPD) delivered by the club's expert coaches.
One of the first events hosted at WSD as a result of the partnership was a specialised goalkeeper camp run by Iker Casillas Academy. The World Cup and two-time European Championship-winning former Spain and Real Madrid Galactico goalkeeper himself was on campus during parts of the camp in January.
Michel Salgado, Fursan Hispania FC, said: “Football has always been more than a game for us. Football is a very important education tool that has developed and shaped our players as well-educated human beings since we started in Dubai nine years ago. We are conscious about the big number of values that sports in general and football specifically can bring to its participants.
“At the end of the day, teaching football is a responsibility we all assume with passion and determination, and part of that responsibility is to provide our players with a new facility in a very prestigious education environment: GEMS Winchester School – Dubai.
“We are excited by this unique project, as it provides the space for both the school and our football club to grow together in a very positive synergy. Creating one of the largest football centres in Dubai, with two full-size pitches, one nine-a-side pitch, a foot-tennis area and two padel tennis courts, was the step we had to take in order to push our club to the next level.”
Matthew Lecuyer, Principal/CEO, GEMS Winchester School – Dubai, said: “At WSD, we continuously look for ways to enhance our learner experience. With our new state-of-the-art sports facilities, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Fursan Hispania FC.
“This is an exciting and unique opportunity to work alongside professional World Cup-winning footballers and coaches. WSD students and staff will benefit by learning from, and being exposed to, a professional football club, enabling sporting excellence and development to be embedded into our everyday learning. We welcome this exciting opportunity for not only our students but also our staff, now and into the future.”
James Bowring, Commercial and Operations Director, ESM, said: “The partnership between Fursan Hispania FC, GEMS Winchester School – Dubai and ESM is unique in this sector. The school will not only benefit from unrivalled sports facilities, but will also have a professional football club and top-class coaches embedded in the school to support the long-term development of football for students – something that has never been seen before.”