Polo may be a well-established sport in the UAE, but the watersport bearing the same name has its own budding community in the region.
The Dubai Camels Water Polo Club are committed to expanding the sport’s presence in the emirate by offering opportunities to play for everyone – from ex-professionals to first-timers.
“The group is a completely social, amateur group. Basically we play just because we love to play water polo,” said Peter Burger, coach of Dubai Camels. “We have members from all over the world. It’s a mix of ex-professionals, first-division players and people who wanted to try the sport and enjoy it.”
Formed in 2007 by group of five members, including Burger, the club had humble beginnings in the pool, initially playing Kings’ School Dubai once a week. Dubai Camels now have a dedicated group of players who train every Monday and Wednesday from 20:15 to 21:45 at Hamdan Sports Complex.
The stunning facility is just one of the many perks of playing water polo in the UAE, according to Burger, who competed in the Hungarian first division, as well as leagues in New Zealand and France.
“In general, the UAE is one of the best places to try a sport. Everyone is looking for sport and many people are amateurs and have come from different countries,” Burger said. “You also have access to the best facilities. We train at Hamdan Sports Complex and it has the best pool I’ve ever played in.”
Water polo may seem like just a fun time in the pool, but by combining elements of various sports such as swimming, football, basketball and wrestling, it appeals to a wide range of athletes.
“It’s a beautiful sport,” Burger said. “First of all, you can only do water polo if you love swimming and you love water. Everybody starts the same way.
“It’s a very good physical contact sport. I think it was voted the most difficult Olympic sport. It’s a very complex sport.
“You have to swim, you have to wrestle and also do underwater stuff. It’s very physical and exciting. As it’s a very challenging sport, it keeps you fit.”
On the social side, Dubai Camels often get together for beverages at Barasti, but they also compete in by-monthly tournaments with other clubs like the Abu Dhabi Hammerheads every two to three weeks.
They’ve also been to Qatar three times for international tournaments, and both go to Saudi Arabia as well as host teams from the Kingdom.
The cost to join Dubai Camels is Dh50 per session or Dh300 for a month membership, with all costs going directly to paying for equipment and pool booking.
Jump in the pool and experience the sport for yourself by contacting Burger at [email protected] or 055 423 9802.
WHAT: Dubai Camels Water Polo Club
GEARED TOWARDS: Water polo enthusiasts
WHEN AND WHERE: Monday and Wednesday from 20:15 to 21:45 at Hamdan Sports Complex, Dubai
CONTACT & INFO: Visit www.waterpolo.ae or www.facebook.com/dubai.camels for more information
Algeria’s Oussama Sahnoune became the first swimmer to book his spot to the Rio 2016 Olympics via the Arab Swimming Championships taking place in Dubai at the Hamdan Sports Complex (HSC) this week.
Sahnoune, clocked 22.27 seconds to take gold in the 50m freestyle event and match the A-standard Olympic qualifying time he needed to secure a place at the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.
Egyptian duo Farida Osman and Ahmed Akram will both be chasing history at the Rio 2016 Games this summer as they attempt to become the first swimmers from their country to win Olympic medals.
The pair have been obliterating their competition in the Arab Swimming Championships that will conclude in Dubai at the Hamdan Sports Complex (HSC) and have legitimate chances of making the podium in Rio this August.
They’ve been leading a major swimming revolution in Egypt and are amongst five swimmers who have qualified for the 2016 Olympics with A-standard times – an unprecedented tally for the North African nation in the sport. There are 14 more Egyptians who have swum B-standard times and will have to wait until July to find out if they’ve been awarded places at the Games.
Egypt are on course towards defending their Arab Championships title as they head into Thursday’s final day at the top of the medals table.
Osman is a former junior world champion and World Aquatics Championships finalist, who last February swam the second-fastest 50 yard freestyle in history while competing for the University of California, Berkeley.
She captured her third individual gold medal at the Arab Championships on Wednesday, clocking 26.52 to touch the wall more than two seconds faster than second-placed Talita Baqlah of Jordan.
The 21-year-old was equally untouchable in the 50m freestyle and 100m butterfly.
Osman’s feats this week are all the more remarkable considering she only arrived from the United States last Sunday after helping the Cal Bears secure third place in the NCAA Championship.
“Honestly right now I’m exhausted, just traveling around, from the US, and competing the next day (here in Dubai) was really hard but I’m really happy to be here and be with my team-mates. I’m really proud to represent Egypt and compete with my team-mates,” Osman told Sport360 at the HSC.
Osman has already made history more than once, becoming the first Egyptian to make a World Championship final and the first to win gold at a World Junior Championship.
Egypt's Ahmed Akram aiming to become Egypt's first The Olympic Games gold medallist swimmer.Posted by Sport 360 on Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Last year, with Missy Franklin as a team-mate at her university, Osman helped the Cal Bears win the NCAAs.
This year, with Franklin ditching her amateur status and turning professional, Osman had more pressure on her shoulders but she says she was proud of the timings she posted, particularly that historic 50 yard free.
“Honestly before I swam I didn’t even think about that, I just wanted to go my best time and see how it goes and I’m just really happy that it was the second fastest ever,” she says.
With Rio just four months away, Osman’s attention will now shift to her Olympic dream. She’s aware that she carries the hopes of an entire nation behind her but is choosing to stay calm.
“Right now I’m not thinking about that, I’m trying just to motivate myself and do my best in practice and what’s going to happen is going to happen. I just want everyone to know that I’m doing my best and if it doesn’t come then it’s not in my hands,” said Osman.
“Getting a medal would mean the world to me. But my goal right now is just to go top eight. Because you know how fast swimmers are and the competition is really high so this is my goal right now.”
Also chasing history is Akram, who won 800m freestyle gold at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing in 2014.
Akram, who studies at University of South Carolina, also had a stellar NCAAs, where he took silver in the freestyle mile.
The 19-year-old, who is also battling jetlag but already has two golds and one silver in Dubai this week, placed fourth in the 1500m at the World Aquatic Championships in Kazan last year.
He says he “can’t wait” for Rio and has his eyes firmly set on the podium.
“I want to win a medal, so I’ll do my best, I’ll train hard. I’m going to stay in the US until May, then I’ll go back to Egypt and then we have a camp in Greece and I’ll try to do my best to be on that podium,” said Akram.