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Morocco's success in World Cup inspires new generation

In a neighbouring city to the capital Rabat, Sale's Athletic Association trains boys and girls in the sport.   -  
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The advance of the Moroccan team into the quarter final of the World Cup in Qatar is bringing hope and making kids and trainers of the new generations of soccer players dream about the future.

In a neighbouring city to the capital Rabat, Sale's Athletic Association trains boys and girls in the sport.

It has also taken some of them away from the streets.

“We are very optimistic. As coach Regragui (Walid Regragui, coach of the Moroccan national team) said, if you have good intentions and you don’t listen to what people say (negative comments), you can only go forward,” said former player Mohamed Mossadaq, who became one of the four coaches of the association, and is willing to help the children using the experience he won playing in several Moroccan clubs.

About 60 kids, aged between 6 and 13, gather on the soccer field a few times a week to practice.

Most of them are dreaming of following in the steps of players like Hakim Ziyech, Yassine Bounou, or Sofyan Amrabat and one day wear the red and green jersey to represent the North African country in a tournament.

“My dream is to become a great player and play with the national team,” said 11-year-old Rimas Boubker after scoring a goal.

“Ziyech is a great player. I hope to play like him when I grew up,“ commented Zia’s Awad, who is seven-years-old.

Some of the boys and girls have come from poor areas or from families with financial problems and can’t afford to pay the yearly membership of about $30 that covers insurance and uniforms among other things.

The fees however does not prevent them from playing.

Those who can’t pay are also welcomed into the team, according to Mohamed Azhar Yaalaoui, chairman of the Association.

“The idea of creating this association came from a group of young people who played football in the past and decided to create a football school on a voluntary basis to help young children,” Yaalaoui said.

At the end of the training and inspired by the results of the national team, the kids cheered in support of the Moroccan squad that will face Portugal next Saturday.

"I salute the Moroccan team who made a tremendous effort in the World Cup and made the Arab world as well as Africa very proud by reaching the quarter-finals stage and why not reach the final?” Yaalaoui said.

The hope to pass to the World Cup's quarter finals is also high in Marrakech, where street sellers are offering Moroccan flags and t-shirts in preparation for the team's upcoming match.

“My expectations are that Morocco will win by 2-0, goals that will be scored by Ziyech and Nssiri," said Oussama Ouabass, a resident of the city.

However, others were less optimistic.

"True, Morocco is playing well this time, but Portugal is a very good team and I think that we will lose,” said resident Hicham Mouafaq.

To get to this moment, Morocco defeated Spain, reaching the quarter final of the World Cup for the first time in its history.

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