ABU DHABI- UAE Rugby Federation’s programme to integrate Emiratis into the country’s domestic clubs has taken a positive step forward with the Arabian Knights RFC committing to the Federation’s Emirati junior development plans.
Focusing on Emirati U-16’s, the programme sees Clubs work alongside the Federation to integrate players into Club rugby, which will reinforce and develop the fundamentals learnt through the Emirati development pathways of the school’s Player Pathway Programme (PPP) and the Shaheen Pathway Programme, by taking the next integral step of enabling exposure of these players to regular Club rugby training and playing schedules.
“It is a privilege for Arabian Knights RFC to partner with the UAERF and grow the game with Emirati’s joining our mini and youth section, which we hope will blossom and succeed in the same way Al Ain Amblers RFC have succeeded with the Al Ain Wolves, a pure Emirati side” said Neil Palmer Chairman Arabian Knights.
“This is an important step that is needed to develop the Emirati players into more competitive, and rugby-aware individuals” said Roelof Kotze, UAE Rugby National Coach and Performance Manager. “There are many aspects (of rugby) that can only be learnt from being part of, and exposed to, a club environment.”
Yousef Shaker, who will work with the Arabian Knights coaching team and oversee the U-16 programme, is an Emirati stalwart of the game and has fast become an invaluable mentor to all Emirati rugby-playing age groups.
Ben van Rooyen, UAERF’s Rugby Development Manager commented, “We see wonderful energy from the students, at the PPP level, especially from those who are keen to go to the next step, so to have another Club support this programme, and have Yousef as their guide, is a great boost to our development plans.”
Palmer added, “This will, in time, enhance participation for Emirati’s to play rugby which will in turn provide depth and continuity for the National teams, and in particular, the 7’s format of the game which is now part of the Olympic Games.”
In a society where Rugby is not the first choice of sport, the Federation remains true to its mandate to develop the game within the indigenous community. Such a mandate requires, at different stages, bold initiatives to support each step.
The initiative behind this programme is that the Federation funds the majority of the players Club registration fees while the Club foots the outstanding.
“The Federation is thrilled with the support given by the Arabian Knights, and Neil Palmer in particular. His, and his committee’s, foresight into supporting this programme shows us they are committed to the Federation’s mandate to develop the game amongst the Emirati youth” said Qais Al Dhalai UAERF Secretary General. “Co-funding the players registration is an important aspect of this programme. Collectively, we all need to ‘put back into the game that gives so much’ and share the responsibility to develop the next generation of representative rugby player” he added.
In closing Palmer stated; “We always strive to offer something more to the Dubai rugby community and engage all who represent our Club with our ethos, support of charity, the growth of the game, all rugby offers now and for the future as the players go through life; friendships, teamwork, discipline and confidence.” “On behalf of Arabian Knights RFC, we thank the UAERF for this opportunity.”