Rul­ing in the desert

Lo­cal Aus­tralian Foot­ball League kick off their new sea­son this week­end

Sport360 - - Chess - By David Cooperb @Sport360 ✉ ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

With over 15,000 Aus­tralians liv­ing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it is no sur­prise that the rise in pop­u­lar­ity of one of Aus­tralia’s most iconic sports has be­come a cru­cial part of the UAE sport­ing scene.

Aus­tralian Rules Foot­ball, bet­ter known as Aussie Rules, has been played in the Emi­rates for over 12 years and the Dubai Din­goes, cre­ated in 2006, are the re­gion’s old­est side.

In fact, the lo­cal footy scene re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant lift when the AFL – Aus­tralia’s Premier League – staged an ex­hi­bi­tion match in Dubai in 2007 in an at­tempt to grow the game in­ter­na­tion­ally.

It was the start of some­thing spe­cial.

Join­ing the Din­goes and the Dubai Heat in the maiden 2007/08 sea­son were the Abu Dhabi Fal­cons and Doha Kan­ga­roos with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Dubai Dragons en­ter­ing the league in 2008.

The most re­cent side to join is the Mul­ti­plex Bulls in 2014 who will be bid­ding to win their maiden ti­tle this sea­son af­ter four suc­ces­sive Grand Fi­nal de­feats.

The Dubai-based team tasted suc­cess in the Pre-Sea­son Cup in Bahrain last month, beat­ing the Dragons in the fi­nal, and hope­fully their early win will serve as the en­tree be­fore their main course at sea­son’s end.

Matt Burn, the AFLME gen­eral man­ager, is ex­cited about the new cam­paign which will run over six rounds and kicks off on Fri­day at The Sev­ens Sta­dium, with an ea­gerly awaited clash be­tween six-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Dragons and the Bulls.

“The in­ter­est for AFL Mid­dle East grows ev­ery year and this year is no dif­fer­ent” said Burn.

“The feed­back from all clubs is that the off­sea­son re­cruit­ment has been the strong­est for quite some time which is great.

“We are look­ing for­ward to a very com­pet­i­tive sea­son with the ex­tra ad­di­tion of more games.”

This sea­son will see three dou­ble-head­ers take place, which is sure to in­crease at­ten­dances and draw more in­ter­est to the sport in the UAE.

“AFL is not just for Aus­tralians, all clubs wel­come all na­tion­al­i­ties and skill level,” added Burn.

“Dubai Aus­kick also runs ev­ery Satur­day at Vic­to­ria In­ter­na­tional School, Shar­jah, from 08:30-10:00. The pro­gramme makes learn­ing to play AFL fun, safe and easy for boys and girls ages 4-15-years-old. Through weekly coach­ing ses­sions they will learn the skills of the game in an ex­cit­ing, so­cial and safe en­vi­ron­ment.

“And a big thanks to our new ma­jor spon­sor the En­ter­tainer for their sup­port.”

You can find all clubs on so­cial me­dia and if you need more in­for­ma­tion con­tact the league at aflmideast@gmail.com.

The in­ter­est for AFL grows ev­ery year and this year is no dif­fer­ent

– Burn

Dragons’ de­light: The Dubai Dragons (white) cel­e­brated their sixth Pre­mier­ship ti­tle in seven sea­sons last term.

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