Waleed Al Hosani: We seek to consider the creative ideas of the young people to develop future projects
A four-stage competition between 8 universities and colleges to select the top three winners
The winning project will be applied in the UAE Pro League competitions next season
The UAE Pro League held on Thursday the second edition of "Innovation Hub - University Challenge 2022" at Rixos Premium Saadiyat Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The event is held in conjunction with the 'Month of Innovation' which takes place this year under the slogan of "The UAE Innovates".
Attending the challenge was UAE Pro League CEO Waleed Al Hosani, UAE PL directors and representatives of Al Jazira, Al Ain, and Al Wasl Clubs, as well as representatives of the participating universities; UAE University, Higher Colleges of Technology, Khalifa University, Sorbonne University, New York University Abu Dhabi, Ajman University, Canadian University in Dubai and Khawarizmi International College.
Stuart Larman, the Director of Club Licensing and Club Development at the UAE Pro League, presented an overview of the Innovation Hub, which aims to provide new innovative ideas for the development of Emirati football and professional clubs and to reach development proposals that will overcome challenges.
He also provided an explanation about the project timetable, as each university is required to form students groups of two to five participants each.
Each group shall attend at least one ADNOC Pro League match for a club of their choice to get to learn about the fans experience first-hand.
The students will have access to meet with UAEPL representatives to get the information they need before submitting their final proposal and presenting it in a panel session on March 16.
The top three projects will be awarded golden, silver, and bronze prizes.
Larman explained that the objective of the second edition of the 'Innovation Hub – Universities Challenge 2022' competition is "how to make the club more interactive with its surrounding community and improve the matchday experience."
In addition, he presented some details of participation in the competition, with regard to the application mechanism, evaluation criteria, and other information that may benefit participating students.
In turn, Malek Doughan, Director of Marketing and Commercial Affairs at the UAE Pro League, gave a detailed explanation of the League's competitions, its initiatives in the commercial, marketing, and fans aspects, and the projects related to enhancing the fans' attendance in stadiums, in addition to strengthening loyalty between fans and clubs.
He highlighted the challenges faced by the League and Clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they were overcome.
Professional clubs participated in the 'Innovation Hub - Universities Challenge 2022' project through presentations made by Al Jazira, Al Wasl and Al Ain clubs, during which participants were taught about the fans attendance boosting programs, marketing and promotional plans and the desired results.
The workshop saw lots of positive interactions with the participating students, who raised their inquiries in various aspects.
CEO Al Hosani stated the launch of the "Innovation Platform - Universities Challenge" project comes within the framework of the league's comprehensive vision for developing football in the UAE, and coinciding with the UAE Innovation Month; February 2022, adding: "Through this challenge, we seek to listen to the proposals of the young generation, hopeful that their competition generates new and innovative ideas that will push UAE football towards advanced ranks in future projects.
The fans are the lifeblood of football, and its true spirit, the painting of beautiful football isn't complete without them, and their absence, we lose a cornerstone of the beautiful game, so our focus today will be on presenting innovative ideas, aimed at finding solutions to increase the level of fan attendance and matchday experience.
We are confident that you have a lot to offer, with innovative, practical ideas that will produce success.
Al Hosani added: "Our wise leadership has encouraged us to think outside the box, embark on a journey of innovation, create creativity, and find sustainable solutions in various fields for various issues.
Sport in general, and football in particular, is not an exception to this trend.
Support of the leadership is the real motivator, To continue to achieve the targeted success in upgrading our sports system, towards broader horizons.
"This platform, being held for the second time, is part of a series of promotional and developmental projects launched by the UAE Pro League, which aims to involve various segments of society in the competitions it organizes, raise awareness of them, and expand the fan base.
The CEO concluded: "I hope that the outputs of this competition will serve the goals that we all seek, as university students are an integral part of the work team of the Pro League, in which we consider you its bright mind and young spirit."