The Palmer name will remain synonymous with Arabian Knights RFC after Louise Palmer was named chairwoman following the death of her husband Neil.
Knights founder and chairman Neil, 45, died at his Dubai home following a heart attack shortly after arriving home from a holiday in Rome with Louise last month.
The family are firmly intertwined with the club, Louise helped Neil establish Knights six years ago was previously club treasurer, while sons Maximilian, 16, and Roman, 10, both play for the youth teams.
She said walking away from the club was simply “not an option”.
“We’ve got two sons left behind so I felt I needed to do it,” Louise said of taking over the reins of the Knights.
She was named Knights’ chairwoman at a UAE Rugby Federation (UAE RF) AGM and mid-season meeting on Monday night.
“It felt normal and the right thing to do. Together we’d done a lot of hard work and I didn’t want that to be lost.
“It’s obviously been a tough time but I feel very strongly about this and stepping away from the club was not an option at all.
“We all talk here about the Knights family and the support since Neil’s death has been overwhelming. The guys at the club all thought it was a natural progression for me to take over.”
Louise said she decided to take up the role of chairwoman from her late husband in order to “honour his legacy”.
The club works closely with the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation and has also, under Neil, played a huge role in introducing Emiratis to rugby.
Louise shares Neil’s passion for developing local talent and says plans are already in motion to increase Emirati participation next season.
“Neil and I had already talked about next season and I feel we need to carry that through. I want to maintain his legacy and vision for the club,” she said.
“Neil’s drive and enthusiasm made the Arabian Knights the club it is today; all inclusive, charity driven and a firm supporter of Emirati rugby.
“I personally want to honour his legacy by continuing the vision he had for the club. With the immense support I have from both within, and outside the club we will follow Neil’s ideas and continue to ensure his ethics and his inspiration will live on through the Arabian Knights.”
— UAE RUGBY FEDERATION (@uaerugby) March 24, 2015
Knights head coach John Taimana said: “The UAE RF have supported Louise moving from treasurer to take the role of chairwoman that provides continuity, stability and direction for the club members, the wider rugby community and our governing body.
“I look forward to being part of the leadership team ensuring that we all continue the plan that Neil had mapped out to provide the enjoyment of rugby to the expat and Emirati community.”
UAE RF secretary general Qais Al Dhalai added: “Neil’s legacy has been passed on to extremely capable and passionate hands, and the Federation is very pleased Louise will be leading the Arabian Knights into the future.
“Louise has the unwavering support from the rugby fraternity and we look forward to working with her, and the Arabian Knights, in the years to come.”
The UAE RF had already moved to recognise Palmer’s achievements and endeavours within the UAE rugby community by announcing that the Ultimate Recognition Award at the UAE Rugby Annual Awards has been renamed the Neil Palmer Award.
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