Dubai Airports’ three-year long sponsorship of the UAE’s Shaheen Rugby programme is paying huge dividends for the team and the sport by boosting participation levels tenfold, improving fitness levels and fuelling the team’s drive to support the UAE Olympic 7’s dream.
The Shaheen Rugby Development programme started with the support of Dubai Airports in 2014 and is responsible for a key Emirati element of the UAE Rugby Development and Performance Pathway. The programme, which commenced with 20 Emirati players who had no real rugby background, now boasts over 250 players aged 16 or over. Shaheen is the development squad for the UAE national rugby team.
“Dubai Airports’ support of UAE Rugby Shaheen programme changed the lives of those who have been involved and have created role models for others to follow,” said HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum – Chairman UAE Rugby.
“It has been a huge success story and not only in terms of the growing number of participants,” said Shaheen spokesperson Qais Abdulla Al Dhalai. “The enthusiasm of the group, love of the game, improving skills and fitness levels are also important success factors. Dubai Airports’ sponsorship and influence not only touches the players, but their families and friends. We estimate since the start of the programme over 420 different individual players which have been involved in the Shaheen programme and over 2,000 Emirati families and friends have also been exposed to the sport as a result.”
Al Dhalai added that players have benefited from weight loss and a more active lifestyle thanks to Shaheen’s structured programme with resources.