For the first time, Netball was introduced at the Dubai Rugby 7s Tournament this year. Teams from all over the Gulf region participated in the inaugural Gulf Women’s Tournament.
Their aim and desire is to further develop netball in future years and invite teams from overseas including youth teams, vet teams, mixed teams and, it is hoped, international standard teams.
The full spectrum of netball will be represented eventually and, as with rugby over the years, this will grow to be a world class tournament for both players and supporters of the sport.
The invitation Tournament was comprised of over 250 rugby teams and the Gulf Netball competition included 24 teams. Therefore welcoming over 4,500 players in total to the stadium for the three most exciting days of live sport Dubai will have seen last year.
The Intergulf Netball Championship
On the 4th and 5th of March this year, Dubai hosted the 30th Anniversary of the Intergulf Netball Tournament. The championship has grown from small beginnings in 1986 to over 300 women competing annually for the Cup, Plate and Bowl. The tournament has seen many changes over the years and to celebrate its growth they were very proud to be launching the first Youth Inter- Gulf Championships. Links have been forged with England Netball and the National Performance Pathway coaches to begin to offer young people a chance to represent their region. As in previous years Barbara Warburton and Netball South West provided 14 highly qualified umpires for this year’s event. This is such a crucial factor in the smooth running of each and every match.
Surprisingly this year, there were more Social teams than competitive ones! This means that some of the teams that would normally play in the Competitive pool have moved down to the Social pool. So sadly for us it meant that the competition was a lot fiercer than in previous years. Alongside this, both pools were then split into two separate pools and unfortunately for us, we were drawn in the tougher pool! It is normally quite a challenge for team Fujairah seeing as we are the only team that doesn’t play competitively in any sort of league, but this year it was a bit tougher than we had anticipated. Having said that we had a few very close matches where the win could have gone either way against some very established teams.
After playing the last match on day one, we all headed back to the Hotel, leaving little time to get showered and changed to be ready for the Gala Dinner. It was a lovely evening with a great buffet dinner, good music and dancing plus a raffle. It was also nice for us that some supporters had made the effort to come up from Fujairah to join us. Towards the end of the evening, all the regions representatives were called up to cut a cake to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Intergulf.
The next day was overcast in Dubai and we even had a little bit of rain, but happily it did not interupt the days schedule of play. One thing that did cause a comotion though was half way through one of the matches there was one almighty bang! It was so loud that most people thought that there had been some sort of explosion. So it came as a surprise to find out that one of the netballs had burst on court. In all my years of playing netball, I have never seen this before!
Regretfully we did not make it to any of the play-off rounds this year, but there was a little comfort in the fact that out of the 6 teams in the finals of the Cup, Plate and the Bowl, 5 of them had been in our pool. I know for sure that had we been placed in the other pool, then it would have been a completely different outcome for us this year. The Intergulf Championship trophy was won once again by Dubai A team, who beat Abu Dhabi A in a closely fought final. It was also confirmed that Dubai will also be hosting next year’s Intergulf.
We would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support, Mariella from Fujairah Marine Services for sponsoring our kit. Scamp Middle East Ltd for sponsoring the Intergulf Registration and Veolia for the Sevens Registration. We really do appreciate all your support.
Lastly, I personally would like to thank all the girls for the hard work and effort they put into training in the run up to the Tournament, they showed some great sportsmanship over the weekend. I know the results were not what we were looking for, but we played some great netball against some very tough opponents and I am very proud of you all…….here’s to next year!