On May 31, the pressure was on to win the title at the grand finale of LVL UP. Hosted by Nike, this unique small-sided tournament gave young amateur footballers the chance to own the game anytime, anywhere.
Taking place in Dubai’s Media One Tower across three levels of the building, this ultimate small-sided competition challenged eight teams to battle it out in increasingly intense conditions. In order to become champions, footballers had to prove themselves and showcase their skills on three diverse surfaces: Court, Turf and Street. The tournament focused specifically on the small-sided game — an important facet of the player's total skill set.
“Playing five-a-side as a kid was a massive part of my development. It improved my control, speed, awareness and vision so much. We still play versions of it in training.“ — Wayne Rooney
All teams arrived at LVL UP ready to fight for the title with utmost focus and determination. The teams played fearlessly as the competition unfolded, showcasing their best skills on each of the courts. As the tournament progressed, the teams were cut to four after playing the court on Level 40, and then to the final two after owning the turf on Level 41. The Grand Finale took place on Level 42, where team Ahdaaf Sports Club and Bayern Neverlosin went head to head and battled it out on a street surface. Pressure was high during the match but ultimately Ahdaaf Sports Club emerged as the champions.
Speaking on behalf of his team, captain Taha Hussain remarked: "This is a dream come true, we still can’t believe that we actually won the tournament!”
As LVL UP champions, Hussain and his teammates Mohammed Salim, Obaid Salim, and Zayed Mohammed will travel to Turkey to meet 19-time Turkish Super League Champions, Galatasaray FC.
LVL UP was inspired by the new Nike Football FC247 collection, a range of performance footwear geared for the variety of playing surfaces, from hard-court to turf. Each footwear silhouette features innovations specific to the style of play reflective of the respective surface.