Like any other rugby-mad youngster, Dubai Exiles teenager Noah Sheridan dreams of playing professionally.
The difference between the 16-year-old Victory Heights protege and most other bright talents, however, is that the stars could be aligning for the young openside flanker.
For starters, Sheridan has been coached closely by former dual code Samoan star Apollo Perelini at his Rugby Skills Academy throughout his childhood in the UAE.
That looks like it’s starting to pay dividends after he was offered a sports scholarship at prestigious UK-based public school, Millfield.
The Somerset institution is famed for producing greats of the game, such as former Wales and British & Irish Lions legendsGareth Edwards and JPR Williams, as well as current England internationals Jonathan Joseph and Chris Robshaw.
Head of rugby is John Mallett, the former Bath and England prop, so Sheridan has every chance to be the next player off the Millfield production line when he joins the ranks in September.
“Millfield is a really good school and I’m excited about it. It’s a step up and hopefully some good things will happen,” said Sheridan, who bases his game on Australia’s whirlwind force, Michael Hooper.
“The aim is to play rugby professionally, hopefully. I’m committed to it but you obviously have to be good, stay injury free and be in the right place at the right time, so many factors have to go for you so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve just got to keep my feet on the ground.”
The family, originally from London, have lived in the Emirates for 24 years, with Sheridan born in Abu Dhabi.
His father Marek is also his Exiles coach and believes his son’s rugby education in the UAE will serve him well.
“Noah went to the UK in November to do an assessment for a number of schools for sixth form, including Millfield, then we got the call and we were delighted,” said Sheridan senior.
“It’s an incredible set-up there with John Mallett as head of rugby. Noah’s a great player, he punches above his weight and is so committed. He’s been that way since he was nine.
“He’s not the biggest openside but is quick, strong and excellent over the ball. He is a constant threat both in attack and defense.
“They’re not just my words but have been echoed by Apollo who’s worked with Noah at the academy for a number of years, we owe a great deal to Apollo and his team.”
In one of his last games in an Exiles shirt, Sheridan and his team-mates claimed a 19-0 victory against Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the final of the Under-16’s A competition at last month’s HSBC Rugby Festival Dubai, and the teenager was glad to sign off in style.
He said: “It was the last one for a lot of us so we really wanted to win and leave our legacy at the club. We’ve known each other for a while so we really wanted to do it for each other.”
The inaugural Dubai Cross Country Series could not have gone any better with some outstanding individual performances at Rashid School for Boys.
More than 100 youngsters from 12 schools across the UAE flocked to Dubai for the first youth competition by Super Sports Events.
And they did not disappoint with closely-fought and entertaining duels across six age categories.
In the girls’ Under-9s, Florence Ashcroft of Kings School Dubai crossed the finish line in 4:45 mins, ahead of JESS Arabian Ranches’ Ava Jones and Emirates International School Meadows Charlotte Whitehead, who came second and third respectively.
In the boys’ group, JESS took the top two podium spots with Matthew Wilkins taking gold in 4:36mins ahead of team-mate Ryan Schacht, who finished eight seconds later.
The U-11s, which saw the youths compete over 1.6km, was equally impressive with Repton’s Charlie Gould (5:42mins) and Marlene Van Der Linde (6:23mins) of Australian School Abu Dhabi triumphing in the boys’ and girls’ categories.
Shane Maskell of Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) was crowned U-13 boys’ champion clocking 8:31 mins but his team-mate Megan Dingle went even faster over the 2.2km distance in the girls section, clocking 8:09 mins.
Other winners included Scholars International Academy’s Abulraheem Semaar, who won the boys U-17s in the 3km distance, and girls winner Masha Wazney of Repton School.
Andy Toward, who co-organised the event, said: “It was an unbelieveable debut and there were exceptional times and we hope to attract even more athletes next time.”
New Indian Model School (NIMS) Sharjah ended their long wait for the Under-13 NIMS Mini Basketball title as the hosts dethroned defending champions Indian High School Dubai.
The 68-44 victory was the first time NIMS got their hands on the trophy after a five-year gap.
Given the significance of the game, the champions were not short of home support with hundreds of pupils flocking to the school’s sports arena.
Buoyed by that vibrant atmosphere, it was Indian High who had the advantage in the first quarter.
Anlin Joy scored 10 points as the visitors led 13-12.
But NIMS fought back as Nabeel Nazar began to find his rhythm with 15 points in the second.
In the driving seat with a 29-11 lead, NIMS built on their momentum and inspired by skipper Muh-ammed Sinan, kept on adding to their tally.
With the scoreline reading 43-32 at the end of the third quarter, Indian High tried their best to get back into the game but NIMS were always one step ahead.
Despite Indian High adding 12 points, they were outscored with NIMS scoring 23 as they finally prevailed by 68-44.
Sinan top-scored for the champions with 29, followed by Nazar who contributed with 26, while Joy topped for Indian High with 29.