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From Cell to Soccer Field: Dubai's General League for Inmates Scores a Winning Goal in Rehab Innovation

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on February 5, 2024, 11:24:36


UAE, Dubai, Dubai Police, Football, prisoners, Dubai sports council

Football has its own set of rules and regulations. The same applies in a prison where rules are harsher and punishments more severe.
Imagine a football field within the walls of correctional institutions, where the rhythm of the game echoes the pulse of redemption. Welcome to the inception of the General League for Inmates, a spectacle where football becomes a formidable force in the realm of correction, turning the ball into a symbol of hope and rehabilitation.

Underscoring Dubai's commitment to innovation and societal transformation, an unexpected alliance between the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) and Dubai Police has given rise to a novel initiative that transcends the boundaries of conventional correctional practices.
The initiative, titled the General League for Inmates was unveiled last Wednesday, setting a new standard in the region. Scheduled from February 7 to May 31, this football league features 14 teams competing within a unique six-six league system, all within the confines of penal and correctional institutions. The initiative's primary goal is to foster physical activity within these facilities, adding a novel dimension to rehabilitation.
“This is not merely a tournament, but an unconventional initiative to blend the beautiful game and the pursuit of second chances. This is the story of how football emerges as a transformative agent in the lives of those seeking redemption behind the bars,” said a former football player who spent four years in jail, requesting anonymity.

The announcement took place during a press conference at the Dubai Sports Council headquarters. It was attended by key figures such as Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary-General of the Dubai Sports Council; Brigadier Marwan Julfar, Director of the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Establishments at Dubai Police; and Salem Al Karbi, Chairman of the event organising committee. Brigadier Salah Juma Nasser Bu Osaiba, Acting Deputy Director of the General Administration of Punitive and Correctional Establishments, was also present.

Al Rahma highlighted the significance of the initiative, stating, “We are pleased to announce the launch of the General Football League for Inmates, which represents a pioneering community initiative.” Emphasizing the strong partnership with Dubai Police, he acknowledged the strategic cooperation aimed at elevating the role of sports in society for its numerous health, vitality, and community-building benefits.

He continued, “Inmates of penal and correctional establishments of all nationalities are part of the society. Sports can contribute to supporting their rehabilitation and their return to society while they are healthy and happy and are useful individuals to their society.”

Al Rahma commended the past success of joint efforts with Dubai Police, focusing on equipping facilities, training inmates through the "Sports Inmates Programme" since 2017 and achieving significant milestones in inmate qualification and rehabilitation.

Echoing the commitment of Dubai Police to the holistic well-being of inmates, Brigadier Marwan Julfar emphasized the importance of creating a healthy environment within penal institutions. “Sports, which are no less important than other aspects, have a significant positive impact on the psychological, health and social behavior of the inmates, and their effective contribution to reducing aggressive or violent behaviour.”

Expressing gratitude to both Dubai Police and the Dubai Sports Council, Salem Al Karbi highlighted the event as the first regular league in the region for inmates, spanning a full season. The tournament, set in Al Awir Prison, will adhere to the Rules of the UAE Football Federation, ensuring a professional and competitive atmosphere for all participants in this unique football league behind bars.

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