Sustainability in sports still has a long way to go, but there is one place that is revolutionising the notion of becoming an “earth-friendly footballer”. Alliance Football Club, Dubai gives young athletes the chance to build life skills alongside playing the game. Founder and Director, Mehran Rowshan’s coaching approach has pioneered the way in which this youth club is teaching its members sustainable practices that aid in their development as football players and also as the next generation of society’s movers and shakers.
When you think of youth football, you may think state-of-the-art facility, creative drills, and empowerment pep talks, and you wouldn’t be wrong. At Alliance Football Club, young players get all of this – and then some. Thanks to their multiple F.A.-qualified founder, director and head coach, Mehran Rowshan, Alliance is not your average youth club. Becoming a member here means becoming a part of something forward-thinking, and enlightening.
Not only does Mehran and his team specialise in classic and more out-of-the-box training, drawing on Football Psychology, Brain Training, Decision-Making, Innovative Match Analysis, and more ground-breaking methodologies, they also prioritise life skills to implement through youth coaching.
Mehran is on a mission to elevate, and innovate, the landscape of youth sports in Dubai and one of the topics at the top of his agenda is to introduce and teach young players to become eco-conscious and make earth-friendly choices. “While we work every day with our kids to help them become better players, we also want to make sure they become more educated people too,” Mehran says. “You’d be surprised to see how deep you can connect with a child through football; it’s a powerful tool. And so, we make sure our players are aware of the impact of their decisions on the environment.”
Educating on sustainability has been a key focus for Alliance FC, and players are encouraged to embrace a more environmentally-conscious outlook when making life decisions beyond the pitch.
This began almost a decade ago when Mehran noticed how much plastic waste was being created from football sessions while coaching at another well-known club. “I realised that we could not achieve anything without educating our players about the environmental impacts of our behaviour,” he says.
As a result, when he started Alliance Football Club in 2015, he decided to give players a stainless-steel, refillable water bottle and ban single-use plastic bottles inside the club. “Most parents welcomed the idea and supported us, which made a significant impact on our long-term target,” Mehran says. “Currently, we have kids as young as three-years-old who train with their eco-friendly bottles. We also stopped using paper inside the club and turn off the unnecessary floodlights during training.”
His mission is to show players that every small action counts towards respecting mother nature, and making a bigger difference for the future of the planet. “We want to enrich our members to become Earth-Loving Footballers; to educate and create a deep understanding of the importance of being at one with Mother Earth, even if it is through small, and simple, yet significant steps,” Mehran adds. “As individuals, we must take care of the very earth that we play our beloved game on, and at Alliance Football Club, we recognise that environmentally-friendly practices require the attention and cooperation of every member of society.”
Alliance FC consistently urges players to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and to take on the responsibility of other environmental basics that can have a great impact on the planet, in the long run. With the motto of #LessPlasticMoreLife working together as a team has allowed Alliance FC to reach incredible milestones in order to do their part to save the environment, we live in. Mehran tells us: “We’ve achieved our initial target of eliminating plastic trash inside the club. Alliance players save approximately 80,000 plastic bottles per season simply by using their Alliance stainless steel bottles.
“We make sure that our students are conscious of the impact of their choices on the environment. A simple change of behaviour can make all the difference in the child’s long-term character development. When we play outside the club, players instantly notice the number of plastic bottles on the pitch. This means our boys and girls are more self-aware and proactively making better sustainable decisions,” he adds.
Alliance also provides their players with eco-friendly Canvas Bags. This is a multipurpose bag that can be used for shopping, sports, the beach, and quite literally anything else you can think of. Each Alliance member’s family receives a complimentary Alliance Canvas Bag to start using straight away.
As a coach, Mehran is motivated by the prospect of nurturing young minds alongside football skills. “Seeing the difference that we make in the lives of our kids and, of course, to get better every day so that we can help our students achieve their full potential, this keeps me motivated to keep going,” he says. “The learning never stops!”
Beyond promoting an ethical message, Mehran has also created a thriving #AllianceGives programme, gifting young players all over Africa with new football kits and coaching equipment. Players are involved in the entire process, from gathering the donations to sorting them out and even packaging them. When the kits are distributed, Alliance’s players can see the results of their contributions through pictures and messages of those who have benefitted from their donations.
Mehran is a prime example of what progressive sports coaching can achieve. His advanced thinking has led to having a phenomenal impact on Alliance’s players and the wider community. When a coach can harness their ability to influence and teach young people that every small step and decision can lead to making a collectively big difference, that is true guidance and dedication to the next generation of footballers, thinkers, innovators and minds who will lead society. Essentially, Alliance FC are making huge leaps on the road to becoming the most admired and commendable youth football club in the Middle East region.