Dubai Airports Shaheen Development Programme is UAE Rugby Federation’s Emirati youth pathway,
which focuses on youths aged 15 years to 19 years and, primarily, the 7-a-side format of the game.
Open to all Emirati youths who are interested in playing the sport of rugby, Shaheen also offers an
integral stepping-stone for the 6,800 Emirati juniors currently participating in UAE school’s Player
Pathway Programme to continually improve their skills and fitness levels with talent encouraged to
continue their rugby-path through Club participation, and possible selection into the Emirates Airline
National (7’s and XV’s) teams.
Shaheen offers Emirati youths with numerous training sessions, designed and implemented, under
the guidance of the UAERF’s Performance Management team, and dedicated 7’s coach, dual
international Apollo Perelini. Shaheen also exposes Emirati players to test (XV’s) rugby through
participation in the Federation’s ‘Community League’, launched in 2015 as a new and ongoing tier in
UAERF’s domestic calendar.
This development pathway is critical to achieving elements of the UAERF’s strategic plan, which is to
support and focus on ‘home grown’ indigenous talent, who, in time could represent the UAE through
UAERF’s Emirates Airline national teams at both World Rugby, and IOC (International Olympic
Committee) sanctioned tournaments.