Ronaldinho plans Saudi Arabia football academy in Jeddah

Ronaldinho speaking at the Misk Global Forum on Wednesday. (Basheer Saleh/Arab News )
Updated 16 November 2018

Ronaldinho plans Saudi Arabia football academy in Jeddah

  • Backstage at Misk Global Forum, Brazilian football legend reveals intention to open school some time next year
  • Player offered advice for audience, speaking about the value of teamwork, learning from failure and the rewards of giving back

RIYADH: Ronaldinho plans to open a football academy in Jeddah some time next year, the Brazilian football legend revealed to Arab News backstage in an exclusive interview after his appearance at the Misk Global Forum on Wednesday.

“First of all, I want to say thank you for a warm reception and kindness which I have received from the Saudi people,” he told Arab News. “As for the kids, those who want to be a player some day, dedicate as much as you can and follow your dreams.”

Earlier, Ronaldinho appeared on stage to a chorus of cheers at the end of the day’s sessions, where he gave a talk titled the Discipline – and Fun – of Teamwork. 

”I was lucky enough to be on a team with stars,” he said of his career with European clubs Paris St-Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan, and a World Cup win in 2002 with the Brazilian national team. “We all respected each other.

“For me it was wonderful, because my history with this team and players was a beautiful one: To idolize them and later play with them and later win titles again…”

IN PICTURES: View the Third annual Misk Global Forum in Riyadh photo gallery

Ronaldinho said he feels grateful for his God-given talent. “Throughout my career we had a plan, and I always worked hard. God gave me the privilege to play football. It was fun, not a sacrifice.”

“I’ve always liked to have a ball around me, to have contact with the ball.”

His advice for the audience? “Prepare yourself and help your colleague or team member,” he said. “Humility is important. Try to stay humble.”

He also said to train hard, read as much as you can and don’t fear failure. “I failed a lot of times,” he said. “Football is like that. You can’t always win. You have to seek lessons from the defeats and not lose hope.” 

Now that he’s retired, Ronaldinho is more concerned with giving back. “After I stopped playing, I have soccer academies. That’s what I’m proud of, and it has given me pleasure. To give something back (as a)  thanks to football and everything it have given me.”

Al-Ula Royal Commission launches second phase of university scholarship program

Updated 35 min 2 sec ago

Al-Ula Royal Commission launches second phase of university scholarship program

  • High-quality education will make students ‘valuable assets’ in transformation of the region
JEDDAH: The Royal Commission for Al-Ula has launched the second phase of its overseas scholarship program, giving students the chance to study at universities in the US, UK, France and Australia.
The program is intended to broaden the horizons of Saudi students, creating more rounded graduates with wider experiences of foreign cultures and practices.
The students will also learn the languages of their host countries, which will aid them in later life depending on what path they choose, and encouraging interaction and exchanges between the Al-Ula region and the rest of the world.
Rami Al-Sakran, capabilities development manager for the commission, said the Al-Ula scholarship program was one of four strands in a community development plan.
“We have four different units, sector planning and business licensing so that covers economic development, with community engagement and human capability under the social development plan,” he told Arab News.
The second phase of the scholarship program will run for five years following the positive response to the first phase, which was launched last year. The second phase has been expanded to accommodate 300 students and is open to all genders.
Last September, 165 students were sent to the US, UK and France with Australia to focus on fields such as hospitality, tourism, agriculture, archaeology and heritage.
Many residents from the area had migrated to larger cities because of the lack of job opportunities, he said, so it was important to engage and employ locals first.
“We’ll flood the equation. We’ll see people coming in and our priority is the local community and to provide them with jobs. We want these jobs that we’ll create to be filled by the locals first.
“We’ve currently provided jobs, whether directly or indirectly, some of them temporary and others permanent. At Winter in Tantora, we have volunteers, ushers, drivers as this is seasonal but we’ve established a database and some jobs are permanent, whether they’re directly employed by our CEO or some contract.”
Al-Sakran said locals were key to the success of turning Al-Ula into a major tourist destination.
“Locals, locals, locals. Without the locals, we can’t succeed. We have a very transparent relationship, it’s a two-way street with them. We cooperate with them and communicate with them on every basis. We have a strong relationship with the governor of Al-Ula and we listen to the locals.
“Whether it was our social or economical development, as you can see Winter in Tantora has a major socio-economic impact on the area and ... the locals are working everywhere here and that’s what we want. It’s theirs. We’ll unveil it to the Kingdom ... that’s the idea, to make it a strong and significant destination for all.”