New initiative hopes to nurture next generation of Emirati rugby players

New initiative hopes to nurture next generation of Emirati rugby players



UAE Rugby has announced the UAE RF Dubai Duty Free Community Rugby Programme, a new initiative and integral component of the UAE Rugby Academy and National Development Pathway School Rugby Program (PPP).



Building on the success of the School Rugby Programme, which now nurtures 118 players in various Ministry of Education (MoE) Emirati schools across the UAE, the Dubai Duty Free Community Rugby Programme forms the next layer in the UAE Rugby Federation’s National Development Pathway.



Qais Al Dhalai, UAE Rugby’s secretary general, said: “This new initiative gives Emirati boys from our local Emirati schools the opportunity to gain continuous skills training, play in regular competitive leagues and tournaments in a social environment.



“We extend our thanks to Dubai Duty Free for their support of the programme and our vision for our sport and our Emirati youth.”

Colm McLoughlin, vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “It is very encouraging to see the direction rugby is taking in the UAE and we remain committed to our original strategy of working with its governing body, the UAE Rugby Federation, to support its overall development.

“We hope that this programme provides the perfect platform for Emirati youth to develop, enhance and showcase their skills in rugby.”

UAE Rugby, as part of their ‘Vision 2028’, has implemented this programme to ‘take rugby to the kids’ and further integrate young Emiratis into the sport. The programme was launched on Sunday, September 15, at Al Barsha Pond Park, and will be conducted every Sunday and Tuesday from 4.30pm to 6.30pm at Al Barsha.

Meanwhile, every Monday and Wednesday from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, the programme will be delivered at Al Warqa Walking Park, both locations have been selected due to their proximity to Emirati families and schools.

“Emirati boys across age groups 5-10 years, 10-12 years and 12-14 years are welcome and will play in competitive leagues on the weekends to show off their skills from training during the week at their neighbourhood venue,” added UAE Rugby board member Salman Hadi.

The programme is intended to grow to more suburbs in Dubai followed by Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and then the Northern Emirates.

UAE Rugby ‘Vision 2028’ has identified a roadmap for young Emiratis to grow with the game through the rugby academy process. This process connects the schools programme (PPP) with community rugby (suburb), then to the elite programme (Emirate or State), the all-Emirati male ‘Shaheen’ team, then the final tier of senior national team representation.

The key to the success of the Vision 2028 is the connection between the levels.  The new levels of the pathway are community and elite.  These give players continuous skill, competitive and social opportunities on a consistent week in week out basis to develop and thrive.