UAE Sports Federations have weighed in with their full support behind the upcoming Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
In the presence of H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the UAE’s federations are set to ensure the two events are a big success in the country.
Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the capital and the Middle East region for the first time.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony was held at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council on Thursday, in the presence of H.E. Major General Mohammed Khalfan Matar Al Romaithi, Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police and President of the General Authority of Sport, H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the High Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, as well as senior executives from various sports federations, government institutions and a number of dignitaries.
Commentating after the ceremony, Mohammed Khalfan Matar Al Romaithi, said: “We are blessed to be part of this great nation, guided by our wise leadership who constantly encourage us to promote the values of unity, compassion and inclusiveness amongst all members of society. This signing today comes in line with our dedication to humanitarian action, driven by the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan for the UAE to play a leading role in spreading peace and harmony around the world.”
He added: “Abu Dhabi hosting this international humanitarian event will undoubtedly empower both the sports sectors in the country and our talented athletes of determination, as it will showcase their talents and skills and highlight the importance of their seamless integration into society.”
The MoU outlines the grounds for effective co-operation between UAE Sports Federations and the Special Olympics, which will include providing services for all sports of Special Olympics, including technical staff and referees; as well as providing full care for athletes coming to Abu Dhabi from 33 different countries for the MENA IX Games and more than 7,000 participants from 170 countries who will attend Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 in March next year.
H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, thanked H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Matar Al Romaithi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council directors and Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the chairmen of sports federations and government institutions for their support of the Games and People of Determination.
“The strategic planning efforts along with the expertise added by the sport federations to the Games will contribute to the rise in levels of excellence from the UAE to reach global levels and became a platform to follow,” H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi said.
He added: “Special Olympics MENA and World Games are the most effective elements in a series of initiatives that Abu Dhabi and the UAE are planning as part of their commitment towards providing more opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and enhancing their integration in society across the emirate, the state and the region as a whole.”
Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 will take place between March 14-21 and over 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi to take part in the Games, which will be the first major sporting event ahead of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
Athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPIC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.
Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society.
The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.
The first ever International Rules match was played in Muscat with the Multiplex Bulls taking on GAA Oman in an exhibition match.
Hosted by the Sultan’s School, Seeb, 20 Bulls players made the trip from Dubai to play the landmark match, which is a hybrid of Gaelic football and Australian Rules, on Friday.
The GAA team was made up primarily of all Irish ex-pats, plus two Omani’s and three guest players from AFLME’s Dubai Dragons. There is a close link between Oman and the AFLME as the GAA still include Muscat Magpies Aussie Rules as a part of their club, although the Magpies have not taken part in the league since 2014.
The game was played in great spirit with both sides taking some time adapting to the new format. The main difference for the Bulls was playing with the round ball and for the GAA it was getting used to the heightened physicality of tackles.
It was tight for the majority and the Bulls headed into three-quarter time with just a six point lead. But the final stanza saw the UAE side score some crucial “goals” (worth six points and scored when the ball hits the back of the net) and they ended up winning 6.5.16(67) to 2.8.10(46).
Will Cook in goal for the Bulls was crucial to the win, making four to five big saves, while Ted Stobart and Joseph Yodgee were the difference up forward scoring five goals between them.
For Oman, Kieran Sheridan and Paul Early were the key players who got the “Irish” back into the game and were also helped by Australian Luke Byron who was impressive in his first ever game with the round ball.
Locals Rashid Alsawafi and Hamdan Ali Almaamari also did their home country proud, proving to be vital up forward in the second half.
AFLME GM Matt Burn said: “All in all it was a great hit out for both teams, with leaders from both clubs expressing how pleased they were to see their respective players test their skills and ability in the respective ‘foreign’ rules format. I am really looking forward to expanding this format so all teams from AFLME can take part in the future.”
Lance Scott from GAA Oman added: “The Muscat Clann Oman club wishes to extend their thanks and gratitude to the Multiplex Bulls who travelled down to Muscat in making this fixture possible and successful.”
Andrew Walter, Bulls Team Manager said: “The Bulls were absolutely wrapped to play the Muscat boys in the combined format.” “The game moved so quickly and was played in a great spirit. The Irish boys carried the ball really well with some silky skills. We were happy to grab the win but the Gaelic guys definitely gave us a scare.”
The long term aim of the match was to get the Muscat Magpies to rejoin the AFLME in 2018-19, playing the compromise rules format.
Further discussions will hopefully end with the Magpies being involved next season. AFLME will resume on February 2 with Dingoes playing Dragons and Falcons playing Bulls.
There is no shortage of top sporting events in the Emirates and here’s our one-stop diary of everything that’s going on — welcome to our weekly feature, What’s Up UAE.
The festive season is approaching and while many have holiday plans in store, there’s still plenty of sport to enjoy in the Emirates.
Are you attending or participating in one of the following events?
Here’s our run-down of some of this week’s sporting events:
DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC
Thursday, January 25 to Sunday, January 28
World No10 Sergio Garcia is back in the UAE to defend his Dubai Desert Classic title – the tournament commonly referred to as the ‘Major of the Middle East’ due to the fact it is the longest-running European Tour event in the region.
The Spaniard is part of a world-class field for the Emirates Golf Club event which will also see Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer compete in the heart of Dubai.
WHERE: Emirates Golf Club
MORE INFO: Dubai Desert Classic
DUBAI WORLD CUP CARNIVAL
Thursday, January 25
The third Dubai World Cup Carnival race gets underway at Meydan this week as local and regional racers battle it out ahead of the prestigious season-ending Dubai World Cup in March.
The first race at the venue is expected to be a highly competitive meet and the action begins at 6.30pm.
General admission is AED 50 at the venue while there are hospitality options to sit in Meydan’s new Grandstand.
VENUE: Meydan Racecourse
MORE INFO: Meydan Racing
STANDARD CHARTERED DUBAI MARATHON
Friday, January 26
The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon is the most prestigious marathon in the UAE and one of the most popular marathons in the region.
Over 30,000 runners are expected to take part across Marathon, 10km and 4km Fun Race distances on January 26 – the most ever to participate in the Dubai event.
Registration is still open if you wish to take part or you can still go down and watch some of the best athletes in the world in action.
In the last edition of the race, Tamirat Tola and Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia clinched men’s and women’s titles.
VENUE: Madinat Jumeirah
Friday, January 26
Here’s your chance to swap the office for the race track as the Abu Dhabi Sports Council City Run returns to the Corniche.
Whether you’re someone who regularly exercises or not, the race provides something for everyone.
Runners can choose from 5k, 10k and half marathon distance.
The race will start and finish at East Plaza and will be a looped 5km course on the closed road between Al Bateen and Airport Road.
VENUE: Abu Dhabi Corniche
MORE INFO: Abu Dhabi Sports Council City Run
WEST ASIA PREMIERSHIP
Friday, January 26
The Gulf’s premier rugby competition continues for week seven.
The highlight of this round of fixtures is reigning champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins at home to an in-form Bahrain side and Dubai Hurricanes in action against Dubai Exiles.
In the other fixture, Dubai Eagles have the chance to avenge two heavy defeats when they face Abu Dhabi Saracens at Al Ghazal – with both sides struggling this season and desperate for a win.
MORE INFO: Fixtures
Friday, January 26 – Friday, February 9
World-class polo action continues in Dubai this week with the ninth edition of the McLaren Cup.
As part of the Dubai Polo Gold Cup series, the tournament runs until February 9 at Al Habtoor Polo Resort.
The Gold Cup Series is only behind Argentina, the US and UK in size and is played under the Hurlingham Polo Association banner.
WHERE: Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, Dubai
MORE INFO: McLaren Cup