Dubai: The Dubai Sports Council welcomed former France and Manchester United star Mikael Silvestre and ex-Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere to its headquarters on Wednesday and presented them with a copy of ‘My Story’, the tales of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and honoured the duo with the ‘Medal of First Line of Defence’ as well.
Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, presented ‘My Story’ and the commemorative medals to Silvestre and Wilshere at the DSC headquarters, in the presence of Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council.
The Medal of First Line of Defence pays homage to the selfless service of Dubai Police, Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Health Authority, and Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services in the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Dubai. Together, they were at the forefront of the Emirate’s fight to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Welcoming the two stars, Hareb gave the stars a tour of the Council’s headquarters and gave them an explanation of the role DSC plays in spreading the practise of sports and in developing Dubai’s sports sector, as well as organising and supporting local and international sports events.
Silvestre, who spent a decade at United and won five English Premier League titles and a Uefa Champions League crown, was delighted to receive the honour and said: “I love Dubai and I am living here with my family now. The people are really nice here and the city is amazing, the lifestyle is amazing and it is very safe — the perfect place to live with your family.”
Thanking DSC for the Medal, Wilshere, who is currently training in Dubai, said: “I am here in Dubai, using the Nad Al Sheba Sports Club facilities — fantastic facilities. I have been training there for a few days now. I wanted to come over here and really step up my training and get to a good level of fitness.
“I have been coming to Dubai for 10 years. My family, they love it. My kids, they love it. The people here are really kind. They look after us and yeah, I will be coming here a lot more in the future.”
The 28-year-old Wilshere, who came up through Arsenal’s youth academy and impressed from an early age, made his first-team debut in 2008 to become Arsenal’s youngest ever league debutant at the age of 16 years, 256 days. Over the following decade, he earned a number of accolades including the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2010-11, as well as Arsenal’s Player of the Season award that same year.
Injuries, however, hampered his career at the Gunners and he eventually left the Emirates Stadium in 2018 to join West Ham United on a three-year contract. The contract, however, was mutually terminated in October, 2020, as Wilshere could only manage 19 appearances in two years.
Speaking about this future, Wilshere said he is keen on getting back to playing as soon as possible, and was “open to offers” from clubs around the world, including those in Dubai.
The “Be Fit, Be Safe” campaign was launched by Dubai Sports Council in March to encourage members of the community to continue exercising at home following the precautionary closure of gyms to combat the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Through the campaign, the Council urged members of Dubai’s diverse community to be safe and avoid going out unless absolutely necessary, and support the efforts being made by Dubai’s front-line heroes to curb the spread of the virus. The campaign also urged community members to continue exercising at home and strengthen their immune system, because a healthy body was the best way to beat the virus.
As part of the campaign, DSC has also linked up with some of the leading brands from UAE’s fitness industry to offer free daily virtual fitness classes, led by certified fitness trainers. The Council also organised a number of virtual sports events and webinars under the ‘Be Fit, Be Safe’ initiative, including the world’s first ‘Marathon at Home’, and a Virtual Tour Challenge for cycling enthusiasts.