After a very successful tournament last year, the Dubai Dingoes along with Specialist Mortgage and Australasian Taxation Services (SMATS Group) will today host the 2008 SMATS Dubai 9s competition. Ten teams will take part, with the Dingoes and the Heat (reigning champion) each splitting into two sides for the event. Last year's surprise-packet the Doha Kangaroos will be back, along with the Airmile Hawks and GAA sides Clann na hOman (as the Muscat Magpies) and the Dubai Celts. The Falcons, who are a new club from Abu Dhabi will make their debut (WFN will reveal more details about the club later in the week). The tournament will be held at the Sharjah Wanderer's Sports Club.
The Adelaide Crows and Dubai Heat have run out easy winners in their respective matches in the AFL's first foray into the Middle East. The main match, the NAB Cup opener between Adelaide and Collingwood, saw the Crows run away with the game 4.15.10 (136) to 0.7.13 (55) - note under NAB Cup rules goals from outside 50 metres are "supergoals", worth 9 points each. In the curtain raiser, the two local teams proved to be a mismatch, as the Dubai Heat defeated the Dubai Dingoes 11.8 (74) to 0.5 (5). Perhaps more important than either result (though tell that to Pies fans, who have been knocked out of the NAB Cup), was that the day appears to have gone very smoothly and the AFL are now talking up more pre-season games internationally.
The Dubai Dingoes' Joel Preston was extensively interviewed on Adelaide's top sports radio show, hosted by South Australian footy stalwarts Graham Cornes and K.G. Cunningham. Cornes was a star player with Glenelg in the SANFL and Cunningham a state cricketer and long serving football umpire. The duo are in Dubai for the NAB Cup opener between Adelaide and Collingwood, and have spent a lot of the time discussing Dubai and the conditions for football.
Reports suggest the field is in good condition, with interviewed Crows players saying it was firm but okay underfoot, despite a recent sandstorm. Temporary seating and amenities have been installed and a crowd of anywhere between 4000 and 10,000 has been predicted, though the lower end of that range is likely.
There's also been plenty of media for the event, some of which is listed here, but there's also apparently been some off-field talk that might not be healthy, though a recent update from Joel is that the situation should not be an issue on the day.
Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper today had a short article on the conversion of the Ghantoot Polo Club ground into an Aussie Rules venue.
Organizers are expecting a crowd of 5,000-7,000 spectators, with over one thousand tickets sold after they went on sale yesterday.
The club is surrounded by desert, around 40 minutes from downtown Dubai and roughly halfway between Dubai and the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. The ground will be 155m x 136m, which is similar to Melbourne's Telstra Dome at 160m x 129m. Curator in charge is Tony Hemming, who previously was in charge at the Telstra Dome, Optus Oval and Launceston's Aurora Stadium.
There have been some rumours circulating that the Adelaide versus Collingwood NAB Cup match in Dubai on February 9th may not go ahead due to concerns about the condition of the playing surface at the Dubai Polo Ground. There was talk that the match would be moved back to Australia because the alternative grounds will not allow alcohol - a problem for entertaining corporate guests.
Today the Adelaide Crows' General Manager of Football Operations, John Reid, commenting on Adelaide radio station 5AA, said that the match would definitely go ahead, but at a different venue to that originally selected because of the ground conditions. The new location will be another set of polo fields.
Further to our story highlighting Collingwood's call to supporters to join them in Dubai on February 9th 2008 for their NAB Cup opener, their opponents, the Adelaide Crows, have also sent a message to members (via email) and all supporters (via their website) inviting them to make the trip.
Packages start from AU$2895 per person for flights and 5 nights accommodation (excluding airport taxes). Options include tours to Abu Dhabi and a breakfast with the players, and there's even an opportunity for supporters to fly with the team. More details here at afc.com.au and Crows Travel on (08) 8239 1333 (from within Australia).
The more Pies and Crows fans that make the journey, surely the more likely AFL clubs will feel financially comfortable in committing to overseas games.
The Dubai Dingoes have organised a football match against an Oman-based side. The game will be held on December 14 at a Gaelic football pitch in the nation’s capital Muscat, with players-per-side to be agreed upon on the day. The Oman side is made up of players from their 2007 Dubai 9s squad, along with local Gaelic side Na Cunna GLC an Mhadaidh (the Wolfhounds in English). The club was established in 1979, and they remain active, having just returned from the Gaelic Games in Bahrain.
It is part of a greater push to establish Australian football in the region. Apart from the Dingoes, the Dubai Heat and the Doha Kangaroos are other active clubs in the Middle East. The Dingoes hope that this match will add an Omani side to that list. Dubai will also play host to an AFL preseason match between Collingwood and Adelaide in February 2008.
The Collingwood Football Club opens the 2008 NAB Cup pre-season tournament against Adelaide in Dubai on February 9th. The club's website is now calling for its supporters to join them in the journey to the Middle East. The details follow:
Collingwood Football Club and Emirates Airline are delighted to announce a series of special travel packages for Collingwood supporters who wish to experience the first ever official AFL blockbuster to be played in the Middle East!
Collingwood Football Club will play the Adelaide Crows in an official NAB Cup Match in Dubai on Saturday 9 February 2008.
The match will be played at the famous Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club amidst a carnival of events.
Travel Packages have been designed to include a range of options for Magpie supporters.
All packages include luxury accommodation, transfers, tickets to the game, an official supporters function with the CFC players and coaching staff, official supporters merchandise pack and a range of special Arabian experiences!
Contact Pie in the Sky Travel to find out more.
Email one of our friendly team members: pieinthesky at pieinthesky.com.au or call (03) 8412 0100 (within Australia)