Olympic winning sevens coach Ben Ryan returned to the rugby pitch of Hamdan Bin Rashed School Dubai, thrilling 30 youngsters who grasped the opportunity to raise their game in a HSBC grassroots coaching clinic with the Englishman.
For the second year in a row, the former Fiji coach was joined at the HSBC grassroots rugby initiative by trusted partner Chris Cracknell, with the pair offering their hand to help the local youngsters of the United Arab Emirates Rugby Football (UAERF) player pathway programme.
Organised by HSBC, in partnership with the UAERF, the player pathway programme aims to cultivate the next generation of Emirati and expat talent, providing them with the platform and skills to thrive in the game.
Speaking on the sidelines after the session, Ryan was delighted to be back in the UAE.
“It’s not often we get a chance to return to the scene of a previous coaching clinic, one year on, to see the progress that has been made,” Ryan said. “Last year we introduced these up and coming rugby players to the basics. Now they are looking to elevate their games to the next level. It’s great to see.”
He continued: “Programmes like this run by HSBC really give these guys a chance. A chance not only to learn a sport, but to fall in love with it. We’re just the facilitators really, working with HSBC and the UAERF to bring people together in an environment that will help them thrive.”
In the 2016/17 season, HSBC’s grassroots rugby programme in the UAE saw 8,150 children benefit from coaching with many using the clinics as final preparation for the National School Boys competition, which is now a key fixture at the Dubai Rugby Sevens.
When asked what it would take to propel the next generation of UAE youngsters into a global spotlight Ryan was happy to offer up his secrets for success.
“You need to keep it simple” he said.
“The UAE doesn’t have the traditional rugby heritage of other countries so it’s all about continuing to build the basic sporting pathways. That means not only focussing on the kids and their opportunities to play, but also on the local coaches who are providing the inspiration and making these sessions happen.”
The Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens takes place from Thursday 30th November to Saturday 2nd December.
Over 100,000 sports fans are expected to walk through the gates at the Sevens Stadium across the three days of competition.
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