While browsing Internet I came across something bizarre, or what seemed bizarre to me, as an expat living in Dubai- Dubai Women’s Rugby Team recruiting more players. The ad looked as follows: We are currently looking for any and all women looking to continue playing rugby or any who fancy giving rugby a try! Players of all abilities, skills and experience are welcome! Our first training session will be held at Sports City, Dubai on August 1st 2016. Contact: Nick Baron on 056 158 6507 or firstname.lastname@example.org
That meant one thing for me- I needed to contact Nick Baron and find out what is happening. How did he get into putting together and training female rugby team in a place, which, according to common stereotypes, doesn’t let women do much? UncoverDubai is here to break stereotypes by interviewing people of Dubai.
UncoverDubai: I’ll start with the most important question: whose idea was it to start a women’s rugby team? And why?
Women’s teams are not a new thing in the UAE or surrounding countries. Because of the number of expats here, there has been an interest in rugby and its been great that year on year the numbers involved and wanting to be involved in women’s rugby are on the rise. However, the Sharks have had this women’s team for the last year, we had a great turnout and fantastic season and expect to build on that this coming season.
UD: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you end up in Dubai? Is coaching rugby your full-time occupation?
I was born in Sharjah, lived in the States and the UK. After a while, I decided to return to Dubai and continue my career here. I had played rugby since I was a kid, my dad used to coach a team in Texas and one in Dubai when we returned, so rugby has always been a huge passion of mine. Seeing I am no longer able to play I was given an opportunity to come on as a coach and it was brilliant! At the moment, coaching for me is just a hobby though. It is a great way to keep involved in the game and help develop players while having some fun.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
Most challenging was coming on board with no real coaching experience. I had been playing for 20 years but had never been a coach myself. It took a few weeks to get into the swing of it, but after that you get into a routine. There have been some difficult days where we have to work around injuries and general issues on game day but we come away from those experiences and learn from them.
What does the women’s team look like? Who are the women that join the team? Have you had any games yet?
The women’s team is a mix of people really! We have mainly expats, but from all corners of the world. Some have never played rugby before, some have played at a very high level in their home countries. We bring everyone together and assess their personality and skills and develop them individually if they need to. It can be either meeting early or staying late to advise on how they can improve their game.
We had a huge number of players at pre-season last year and hope that we will increase that this year as we are growing as a club at the moment. Many of our players have played in other clubs within Dubai over the last few years.
As for the competitions, we have participated in many of them. Since we are involved in Rugby Sevens, we have competitions every month from September/October until March. We play against many other teams from the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait on the day and there are different leagues depending on the ranking of the teams from previous seasons/competitions.
The main focus for the Women’s Rugby team is the Dubai Sevens competition in December, we compete in this and it is a fantastic event for both players and coaches alike.
How do we join? What are the costs and requirements? Is it competitive or is it just a recreational activity? What should potential team members look forward to?
Anyone can come and join the Women’s Rugby Team, all they have to do is turn up on the 1st August at Dubai Sports City and express interest, they will then meet the team and coaches, have a run around and get involved! The costs depend on whether they wish to play or just be a part of the club and get the benefits that come with the membership. It is a competitive league we play, so psychologically the teams are here to play and to win!
Regarding the expectations of potential team members, I expect them to come over and get involved, not just in the team atmosphere but the wider club atmosphere, we have nearly 200 registered members so far and the numbers will grow this season. It is a fantastic opportunity to get to know a new sport, new people and challenge yourself to do something that is out of a lot of people’s comfort zones.
Anyone looking to come join Dubai Sharks Women’s Rugby Team should expect a warm welcome from the team and coaches, a physically tiring session (it is a contact sport so the training accommodates for that!) and a structured session that challenges but improves players every session.