Around 800 rugby-mad youngsters plus their families swarmed on the UAE capital last week to celebrate Abu Dhabi Harlequins’ mini and youth section’s awards day.
The size of the club’s thriving youth section was perhaps emphasised by the fact the event was held over a mammoth seven hours, with age groups from Under-7 to U-19 all being rewarded for their efforts throughout the season.
The event was held at the Novotel Hotel, with trophies presented by Quins’ senior players.
Alex Bailey, mini and youth manager, said: “For me the awards were a great success. Whilst individuals were recognised with awards the whole day was a message of unity as age groups, teams and most of all as a club.
“From start to finish the coaches’ speeches echoed words such as values, respect, teamwork, pride and fun. It was a delight to see all of the messages we have been trying to convey to these kids all year being delivered and received as second nature.
“My personal thanks go out to all of the players, parents, volunteers and sponsors and senior players who have offered their support throughout the season. Without any one of these people what we do would not be possible.
“Our best wishes go out to the families that will be leaving the UAE this summer, and I look forward to seeing those who will remain in September when the new season will start.”
Many of the club’s senior players also coach at various youth levels throughout the Zayed Sports City-based club, and head coach Mike McFarlane said his charges were happy to share in the youngsters’ success.
“A fantastic day where there was a constant buzz of pride from children and parents alike,” said McFarlane, who has just completed his debut season in charge of Quins.
“For the seniors to witness this first hand was very rewarding with many having been involved in coaching and the junior tournaments. The juniors were inspired receiving their awards from the seniors and that is exactly what we wanted to achieve with the ‘one club’ ethos.
“A personal highlight was to see Luke Stevenson, our captain and fly-half, found by a junior and his father to ask for kicking guidance. Luke offered his time and they left the conversation saying ‘he wants to be as good as you’.