United Arab Emirates. Sunday, 30 November 2014: With the 2014 Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens less than a week away, HSBC has teamed up with two rugby legends to help prepare Emirati schoolboys training to make their bow at the event.
Waisale Serevi and Ben Gollings, widely regarded as two of the greatest Sevens players of all time, have been spending time with young Emirati schoolboys in Al Ain and Dubai, ahead of the HSBC UAE National Schoolboys tournament – taking place at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on December 4 – 6. The 2014 event marks a major milestone for Emirati school rugby with teams from UAE national schools set to contest their final on the Dubai Sevens main pitch in front of 40,000 spectators.
This week’s coaching sessions form part of the HSBC Rugby Festivals in the UAE and have been delivered in partnership with the UAE Rugby Federation and Serevi Rugby. Serevi Rugby is on a global mission to introduce thousands of children to the sport ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Fijian legend Serevi was full of praise for UAE rugby on wrapping up this week’s sessions and feels that the future is bright for the sport in this region:
“The passion these young players have for the sport is fantastic. They are working really hard getting ready for the big tournament next week and I am glad we were invited down here to become a part of this important journey for these players.”
“Most children we’ve coached in the past love rugby because it’s a high contact sport for all shapes and sizes. When we coach, one of our key techniques is to get young players using their space and creating an opportunity for another player on the team to score a try. It gives the players technique and also helps create better synergy between them,” added Serevi who for most of two decades was the face of Sevens for his island nation as player or coach.
Serevi was joined by another Sevens icon in the form of England’s Ben Gollings, who remains the highest points scorer in the history of the sport: Gollings is a partner in the Serevi Rugby academy set-up and was equally encouraged by what he saw in the young UAE players:
“What we’ve been doing this week with the next generation of rugby players is exactly what Serevi Rugby is all about – helping young players make a pathway to international level.
We’ve run a series of HSBC Rugby Festivals in the US, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and Brazil and met some wonderful children. However, the UAE players are very special; the UAE National Schoolboys tournament next weekend will definitely be a game to watch. We are wishing the teams the best of luck and I hope the players put their best skills on show and enjoy the game!”
The growth of rugby in the UAE is at an all-time high thanks largely to its induction into the Olympic Games. To date, over 3,000 UAE nationals play regular rugby across 23 schools as part of the UAE Rugby Player Pathway Programme backed by HSBC and the UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF). HSBC supports the work of the UAERF through funding, the supply of playing/training kit, expert coaching from its global rugby ambassadors and the creation of the first ever Arabic language coaching manual in 2012.