With only three defeats in 103 games over a four-year period, the ladies from the capital recently completed a Treble after beating Dubai Celts in the championship final – adding to their league and Asian Games triumphs earlier this year.
Another remarkable season for Abu Dhabi ended with another impressive haul of trophies; captain Sinead Walker is convinced that it is the club’s strong sense of camaraderie that is behind the success.
“We’re a tight knit group. When we all started playing for the club it felt like a home away from home,” Walker said.
“It makes life a lot easier to live in Abu Dhabi and helps you to get through the working week.”
Competition for places is fierce with 120 girls training three nights a week at Zayed Sports City fighting out for spots on the 11 ladies teams.
“We’re really lucky with the B and C team being so competitive,” coach James Ryan said.
“There is a massive fight for places and a lot of the girls would be disappointed if they were left off the team. They’d come back and train harder to ensure they make it the next time.”
It’s a star-studded side, featuring a host of former inter-county players including Niamh Lohan (Galway), Niamh Carroll (Wicklow), Amy McAleer (Roscommon) and Walker (Westmeath).
Loretta Maher of Duagh – sister of All-Ireland winner and 2015 All Star Anthony – has even played for Ireland in basketball.
The highlight of the ladies’ season was unquestionably clinching the Asian Games title in Shanghai in October, overcoming teams from the likes of India, South Korea, China and Thailand to cement their status as the best team on the continent.
A month after Abu Dhabi’s crowning moment came a crucial crossroads in their season as they suffered defeat to Dubai Celts in the Bahrain finals. It was a loss that spurred the girls on to bounce back to winning ways.
“They were champing at the bit and dying to get back at it again,” Ryan added. “They weren’t happy with losing because they are so used to winning. They just wanted to get some payback for the loss.”
Skipper Walker believes defeat in Bahrain allowed the team to re-group and what followed were two enthralling performances against the Celts in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in which they prevailed by the thinnest of margins.
“When you are winning for so long, something has to give. You can’t keep going and going,” said Walker. “It’s definitely the best thing that’s happened to us when we lost in Bahrain.
“We refocused and came back stronger. That’s why it’s so special to win the league and championship.”
Ladies football in the region continues to thrive with more than 500 girls participating in the latest competition two weeks ago.
Abu Dhabi – along with Dubai Celts – continue to dominate ladies football and judging by their colossal pool of talent will be difficult to stop going forward.
The Abu Dhabi Sports Festival will run over 59 days from June 5 to August 5 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
Among the sports and activities on the agenda are volleyball, football, jiu-jitsu, 3×3 basketball and running. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, ADSC general secretary Aref Al Awani said he was expecting a big turn-out.
“We are anticipating huge numbers for the Abu Dhabi Sports Festival,” he said. “There will be a small fee to use the facilities but this is a chance for everyone to get involved. There will be a lot of choices in terms of sports, while there will also be competitions in different sports.”
“During the summer, it can get really difficult for people to exercise because of the heat. But with this festival being held indoors and in an air-conditioned facility at ADNEC, people can carry on being active throughout the summer.”
The event will be open from 16:00 to 03:00 during Ramadan, and between 10:00 to 22:00 until August 5.
So far, more than 20 players have signed up for the season-ending event but you can still join them ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.
Now in its third edition, the tournament has become hugely popular with full draws.
And this month’s championship, running from May 27 to June 17 at the Meydan Tennis Academy in Dubai, will be no different.
“It’s one of our big competitions and this will be the third time we’ve held it. On both occasions, all the spots have been filled up and we hope to have many players competing this time around,” said Gwen Sproule, business development director of Tennis 360.
Running over four weeks, the first two rounds and the last-16 matches will be played on Fridays, between 08:00 and 22:00.
The quarter-finals are scheduled for Saturday, June 11, while the winners will look to continue their quest for glory with the semi-finals (08:00 to 10:00) and final (from 20:00) on Friday, June 17.
The players, who must be 15 and over and not be a coach, will test themselves in matches of best of three sets with a short deuce with a Super Tie break in the third. The eventual champion will get their hands on a prize cheque of Dh3,000, while the runner-up will claim Dh1,500 for his efforts.
With just one day to sign up, Sproule insists it’s one not to be missed.
“It’s not going to be an easy experience as players who play in this tournament are quite competitive,” she said.
“This tournament is very well run. There is no massive waiting time. We close the registration, days before it begins so that gives the players enough time to know when they will be playing their matches.
“We’ve made it as easy as possible and it’s a tournament where players can get to know each other as it’s very social.”
Entry costs Dh150 per person and registration can be done by visiting www.tennisthreesixty.com.
What: Tennis 360 Men’s Singles tournament
Where: Meydan Tennis Academy, Dubai
When: May 27 to June 17
Contact: Visit www.tennisthreesixty.com