Trick plays, spikes and camaraderie highlighted the Emirates American Football League’s jamboree-style Pro Bowl as Youth players put their skills on display.
Saturday’s round-robin exhibition games at Dubai Sports City featured three squads – Hitsquad, Wolfpack and Sharks – competing in the Rudy Ruettiger Division (Pee Wee), the Walter Payton Division (Bantam and Junior Varsity) and the Vince Lombardi Division (Junior Varsity and Varsity).
With the Pro Bowl last held in 2015, this year’s event gave players a chance to strap on the pads again before the summer break.
“It’s kind of an opportunity for the players to have one more chance after the season ends,” said Hitsquad’s Sami Bushnaq. “It’s just a couple games where teams get to have fun and play with each other.”
Bushnaq, who plays for the Junior Varsity Dubai Stallions, was clearly having fun himself and it showed on one play when the running back dove over a defender.
For Hitsquad defensive end Jacob Bielss, the most enjoyable aspect of the Pro Bowl was joining forces with players who are usually opponents.
“It’s cool to be able to play with some of the best athletes on the field and play against your own team-mates,” said Bielss, who played for the Bantam Abu Dhabi Scorpions this season. “You get to meet new people and new friends, so it’s a really great experience for all these different athletes.”
The players weren’t the only ones enjoying the day. Coaches let loose with creative trick plays that included flea flickers, reverses, end-arounds, double passes and more.
And when the players did find the end zone, they didn’t hesitate to break out their best celebration – something they’re not allowed to do in the regular season – and spikes, as long as they retrieved the ball for the referees.
“Since it’s the Pro Bowl you can do whatever you want. You get to have fun,” said Bielss. “Trick plays were one of the main things people wanted to do because it’s just for fun, it’s not a serious type of event.”