Leading out Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) against arch-rivals Manchester United for the Barclays Premier League derby crunch match on April 30th is a ‘dream come true’ for Emirati youngster, Ali Waleed Al Saeedi.
Having won the prize as part of a competition run by MCFC Principle Partner, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, the eight-year-old football fanatic, from Bani Yas in Abu Dhabi, couldn’t believe his luck when his father called to tell him the good news at school.
“This is a dream come true, I cannot wait. I am a huge football fan and to go see one of the world’s best teams will be a memory I cherish forever. I knew they were going to announce the competition’s winner on Sunday whilst I was in school, however, I didn’t think for a second that I will win. When my father called, I couldn’t believe it. This is my wish!” said Ali, who entered the competition with his three brothers, Abdulla, Mohamed and Khalid.
Football has been a big part of Ali’s life, said his father, Waleed Al Saeedi, and has been important in building his confidence, both at home and socially.
“Ali is shy by nature but he is very excited to be there close to the stars and this is something he will remember when he grows up. Ali used to be a quiet boy but recently, since he joined Manchester City School of Football, he started to get more confidence not only in football but even in his personality and daily life. We are glad football has helped build this,” said Al Saeedi, who will accompany his son to Etihad Stadium in Manchester, UK.
Etihad Airways Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner said: "Engaging local children actively with our sponsorships is one of our key focuses; it aids their motivation to get involved in sport and develops grass-roots participation regionally.
This unbelievable prize will not only give Ali Waleed Al Saeedi the opportunity to experience the biggest Barclays Premier League match of the season in person, it will also give him a memory to treasure for life - leading the City team out in a potentially title-deciding derby."
The April 30th match is billed as the crunch date in the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League title race. Ali and his father will fly Etihad Airways return from Abu Dhabi to Manchester, stay two nights in Manchester and be treated an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Etihad Stadium.
Ali will also get the chance to greet the Manchester City players as they arrive at Etihad Stadium and will receive an official replica Manchester City kit. He will also spend time with City’s mascots Moonchester and Moonbeam before leading the team onto the Etihad Stadium pitch alongside the home team’s captain.