Dubai Youth Hockey Club bringing the sport to life in UAE

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Stick with it: The new club is open to children from as young as four.

The lack of an outside pitch isn’t slowing down the Dubai Youth Hockey Club, who are making strides in increasing the sport of field hockey in the UAE at grassroots level.

The first youth hockey development coaching programme in the region has spread the game by spurring interest in children despite playing on the inside surfaces of Horizon International School rather than a typical turf field.

It hasn’t mattered, however, as Nadia Schwarz and her husband Paul founded the club in 2012 and realised there was a need for a structured programme.

“We always knew there was a need for a youth hockey club out here because we both play hockey ourselves,” said Schwarz.

“Then we realised we could take this a bit bigger and we reached out to a very full database that we had and we got 50 kids from there and now two years on, we’ve got about 130.”

The club is for children 4-16 and follows the Hockey Australia FIH youth coaching programme, Hookin2Hockey, for teaching the skills and rules of the sport.

As small as field hockey is in the UAE relative to other sports, Schwarz has found that there’s a diverse range of kids that have interest. The widest group in the club is children from the Netherlands which make up around 60 per cent, followed by kids from the United Kingdom, India, Australia, New Zealand and other nations.

The dynamics of field hockey allow it to be all-encompassing from an age and gender standpoint. “It’s tiny here but I love it, it’s as simple as that,” said Schwarz.

“If you were from really anywhere else in the world apart from the Middle East, you generally will have hockey leagues, clubs and schools. So, with obviously the European community here, they’re really used to that form of hockey and they grew up with that. It’s a huge sport for them.

“It’s a completely inclusive sport and that’s what’s fantastic about it. It’s got that nice social side to it and the most important thing is that it’s quite a fair sport.”

Schwarz herself has a background playing hockey in Australia and is a certified coach. The club also has another head coach from Ireland and assistant coaches that are parents of the children and have played the game before.

There’s still room to grow and Schwarz hopes the club is demonstrating there’s enough interest to justify the creation of an actual field that can be the centralised home of field hockey in the region.

“If we can get the people to play it, then it’s simple, there’s more of a demand,” said Schwarz. “It would be great to just have one place we can call home for hockey. Hopefully with the youth side, we can show that it has a future as well.”

Anyone interested in participating can inquire about the coaching sessions and league during the current 14-week term.

What: Dubai Hockey Club
Founded: 2012
Geared towards: Field hockey enthusiasts 
When & Where: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at Horizon International School in Um Al Sheif, Dubai
Cost: Dh65 per session during the 14-week term, Dh100 for individual session
Contact & info: Email [email protected] or call 050 944 6172 

How to Get involved:

Dubai Youth Hockey Club has programmes for both children, as well as a separate women only team:

For children aged four to 16, coaching sessions are offered three times per week, while a league for kids aged nine and above takes once a week.

Coaching sessions 
Perfect for training children in the skills and rules required for field hockey. 
Takes place every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with specific sessions for under eight, under 11s and 12-plus.

League for nine and over 
Consisting of three teams.
Children are placed on teams based on age and ability in order to make teams as fair as possible.
Teams play each other every Friday in short matches of about 15 or 20 minutes.
A leaderboard is kept and an end-of-term celebration and award ceremony takes place.

Fantasticks Ladies Hockey Club

Pick-up play
Club is women-only and made up of many mothers whose children participate in the youth programme.
Meet once per week and organise pick-up games.

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