by Matt Jones
Sunday 06 December 2015
Rising talent: Ali Khalid (r).
Mukhtar Mekki hopes to one day watch Ali Khalid and his team-mates play on Pitch 1 at The Sevens Stadium in the main World Rugby Sevens Series.
Perhaps Mekki will be proved right and the UAE National Schoolboys final played in front of an impressed main stadium crowd at the Dubai Rugby Sevens on Saturday will serve as a glimpse into the future of Emirati rugby.
One thing’s for sure, on this evidence there is no shortage of young, local talent.
That is particularly true of 18-year-old Khalid, who danced his way to the try-line in the final seconds to touch down and seal a 17-5 win for Dubai Mixed Schools against Rashid School for Boys.
Rashid School actually took the lead in the final but once Dubai Mixed Schools settled into their tricky and skilful style of play, they were difficult to live with.
Competing on the main pitch, scoring in and winning the final and lifting the Trophy is a memory Hamdan Bin Rashed High School pupil Khalid will carry with him forever.
I like this game so much and I hope it will become more and more developed in the UAE – Ali Khalid
“I feel so happy but we are a whole team and the win is down to the team. We are happy that we came back from going behind on the scoreboard,” said Khalid, who hopes for rugby to one day become his country’s most popular sport.
“I am so happy and excited to be here and seeing all these people watching me play. It will be a good souvenir for me,” he said.
“I like this game so much and I hope it will become more and more developed in the UAE and that it becomes the UAE’s most popular sport.”
Team coach and Khalid’s teacher, Mekki, was the man who first introduced the youngster to rugby.
“I am his teacher and brought him to this game. Perhaps we will see him and some of the boys in the main men’s final one day, why not,” he said.
“You saw him, he can be, he is able but he has lots of work to do and must be persistent.
“This is perfect for me to see these boys playing rugby. It’s their first experience and they did it in the best way and I hope they continue this.”