Winston Cowie has been named the new head coach of Abu Dhabi Saracens, with the New Zealander taking over from joint player coaches Stephen Hamilton and Craig Nutt.
The duo took charge at Al Ghazal last June when West Asia Cupwinning coach Ali Thompson stepped down. Englishman Hamilton and Wales’ Nutt will both remain at the club as players as well as assisting Cowie off the field too.
Sarries chairman Jay Danielson is excited that the club has been able to appoint Cowie, 33, a former Doha captain who has also previously worked as a forwards coach at Abu Dhabi rivals Harlequins.
“I’m very excited about Winston joining us, he is a no-nonsense bloke who will bring some structure to the team and really help develop our younger players and bring out the best in our established guys,” said the Australian.
“Steve and Craig did a terrific job, they took on the roles at short notice and really helped steer the ship in our transitional year with a new management structure. They are 100 per cent behind the appointment of a traditional head coach role. They will also be part of a senior leadership team to assist Winston where they can.”
Hamilton and Nutt enjoyed a steady season despite juggling coaching and playing. Although they could not emulate the success of 2014/15 when Sarries famously won the West Asia Cup, it was still a respectable campaign. They finished fourth in the West Asia Championship after a disastrous start and also finished third in the UAE Premiership.
“We are all looking forward to working with Winston and we will continue to help wherever he needs us,” said Nutt. “I am looking forward to going back to playing, having a good year and helping the team wherever I can.”
Aspire Academy is one of the most impressive sporting facilities in the world.
Situated in Doha in Qatar, the academy works with nearly 2,000 athletes from the kids that practice sport in schools to graduates that are still connected through their transition into professional sport.
The academy itself is a full-time programme that aims to develop young Qatari athletes on a sporting and academic front.
In order to maximise performance in their athletes, Aspire and the global technology company SAP have joined forces to drive Qatar’s sports development programme.
With this new SAP partnership, the Aspire Academy coaches, athletes and management will be able to access real-time data on tablets to develop athletes’ performance as well as track fitness and overall conditioning.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Stefan Wagner of SAP. “It’s certainly one of the most advanced facilities for multiple sports. The big advantage is that you have multiple sports below one roof, and that makes it interesting from a technological point of view because you can collect data across sport and benefit from each other.”
The ability for a player or coach to use their Iphone to watch match highlights and monitor performance shows how unique this partnership is to developing clear athlete information at Aspire Academy.
With Qatar also set to host the World Athletics Championships in 2019 and World Cup in 2022, SAP technology is a great chance to enhance youth development and national team competitiveness.
Clubs and leagues co-innovating with SAP include the German national team, Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim among others.
Global Distribution were crowned champions of the inaugural Alliance Ramadan T20 Super League following their thrilling 14-run win over Mehta Gulf-Admiral Splendid Cricket Club in the final played at the Alliance Cricket Ground.
Captain Pervez Ahmed won the toss for Global Distribution and decided to set the target. They did that in brilliant fashion, reaching 200 for the loss of five wickets with valuable contributions from the middle order.
Hamad Ali (38), Usman Liaqat (34), Amir Butt (46 not out) and Zawar Farid (38 not out) were the main contributors as they set up an asking rate in excess of 10 runs an over. Chasing the huge total, Admiral
Splendid got off to a spirited start.
Opener Zaheer Ahmed (62) put together 38 runs for the first wicket in just three overs. However, they lost their way when batting mainstay Sanoj Abdu was second out for 24 with the score reading 91 for 2 in the 10th
Admiral Splendid lost quick wickets and were down to 136 for seven in the 15th over, from where it was always going to be difficult. They finally finished on 186 for nine, with Global Distribution spinners Hamad Ali (three for 32) and Muhammed Tariq (three for 31) doing most of the damage.
Tariq was later named Man of the Match for his efforts, as well as Man of the Series for his consistent performance. He finished the tournament with 251 runs, 12 wickets and also took two catches.
Sudheesh Thulaseedharan of Step International was adjudged the Best Batsman for scoring 316 runs while Salal Lal of Admiral Splendid was named Best Bowler for his 17 wickets. Dubai Blues CC received the Fair Play Award.