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)
The AFL has confirmed that next year's exhibition match in Dubai will go ahead, with February 8 penciled in as the likely date. Victorian powerhouse Collingwood will face off against the Adelaide Crows. Of all 16 AFL clubs, Adelaide has the most members, which this year topped the 50,000 mark for the second time. Both clubs have business interests in the Middle East, through Emirates and Toyota. The news comes soon after the announcement that Carlton will play Fremantle in South Africa, also set for early 2008. The games are part of an increased commitment by the AFL to develop football outside of Australia, with Tokyo and Los Angeles suggested as locations for future games. Unfortunately, poor timing looks to have ended the annual London match.
The Dubai Heat, current Dubai 9s champions and the bulk of the UAE Heat squad which will attend this month's Asian Championships have launched their website. It gives an insight into the club, lists upcoming events and has several photos up of the club in action. Impressively this Wednesday 11 July, two Heat players, James Grlusich and Daniel Dugina will appear on television program Good Morning Dubai, and will inform viewers of the Asian Championships and recent football developments in the Middle East. Good Morning Dubai airs on City 7 Dubai at 7am.
In other news, the Collingwood versus Adelaide match proposed for Dubai is now probably just days away from confirmation. The Adelaide Advertiser last week ran an interview by Michelangelo Rucci with Crows official John Reid who has just returned from examining the polo fields that would be used for the match. The Advertiser tips Friday February 8 2008 as the day the AFL will stage the match, with Adelaide to use it as a welcome variation to the monotony of pre-season training, with the club possibly spending a full week in the UAE. Reid spoke of that reason as persuading him about the usefulness of the journey to the player group, though there are commercial and television rights issues that are more likely the initial driving factors. The match may see the end of the traditional Adelaide versus Norwood pre-season game, though as we reported in Adelaide demonstrate the long road for internationals, the series had become unhealthily lopsided.
A highlight of the Asian football calendar, the Asian Australian Football Championships are now less than a month away. The United Arab Emirates Heat are one of two countries to debut at this year's Championship - their squad comprised of players from the country’s two primary clubs; its namesake and football-pioneers the Dingoes. Below is a brief look at footy in the UAE following the Dubai 9s and the Heat's preparation for Bangkok next month, plus a correction to the article's first release.