UAE Rugby Federation’s programme to integrate Emiratis into the country’s domestic clubs has taken a positive step forward with the Arabian Knights RFC committing to the Federation’s Emirati junior development plans.
Focusing on Emirati U-16’s, the programme will see clubs work alongside the UAERF to enable the transition of players into club rugby.
“It is a privilege for Arabian Knights RFC to partner with the UAERF and grow the game with Emirati's joining our mini and youth section, which we hope will blossom and succeed in the same way Al Ain Amblers RFC have succeeded with the Al Ain Wolves, a pure Emirati side,” said Neil Palmer Chairman Arabian Knights.
UAE Rugby National Coach and Performance Manage, Roelof Kotze added: “This is an important step that is needed to develop the Emirati players into more competitive, and rugby-aware individuals.
"There are many aspects (of rugby) that can only be learnt from being part of, and exposed to, a club environment.”
Yousef Shaker, a UAE rugby stalwart who has fast become an invaluable mentor to all Emirati rugby-playing age groups, will work with the Arabian Knights coaching team and oversee the U-16 programme.
Ben van Rooyen, UAERF’s Rugby Development Manager commented: “We see wonderful energy from the students, at the PPP level, especially from those who are keen to go to the next step, so to have another Club support this programme, and have Yousef as their guide, is a great boost to our development plans.”
In a society where Rugby is not the first choice of sport, the Federation remains true to its mandate to develop the game within the indigenous community.
Such an initiative requires – at different stages – bold initiatives to support each step. The plan behind this programme is that the UAERF funds the majority of the players' registration fees.
“The Federation is thrilled with the support given by the Arabian Knights, and Neil Palmer in particular. His, and his committee’s, foresight into supporting this programme shows us they are committed to the Federation’s mandate to develop the game amongst the Emirati youth,” said Qais Al Dhalai UAERF Secretary General. “Co-funding the players registration is an important aspect of this programme. Collectively, we all need to ‘put back into the game that gives so much’ and share the responsibility to develop the next generation of representative rugby player."
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