The second AFL Middle East season is drawing to a close. The last round is still to be completed, but the Grand Finalists have already been determined. Ironically these two clubs, reigning champions the Dubai Heat and their neighbours the Abu Dhabi Falcons, will also face off in the final round.
It has only taken two matches for the new boys of AFL Middle East, the Bahrain Blues, to join the winners list. They defeated last year’s Grand Finalists, the Muscat Magpies 12.14 (86) to 11.9 (75) in front of a home crowd.
AFL Middle East will this Friday begin its second season. All teams from the very successful inaugural season return, joined by the newly formed Bahrain Blues.
The additional team creates a bye in the fixture each week. This season is comprised of seven rounds plus the Grand Final, and will conclude in March 2010. No doubt the Dubai Heat will be keen to continue their dominance of Middle Eastern football and again take home the silverware. The eagerly awaited rematch between last year’s two Grand Finalists is due in Round 3.
Attempts are currently being made to establish a football team in Jordan's capital, Amman. So far the most that has been achieved is the occasional "kick-to-kick", but Nick Gibson, the man behind the idea, remains hopeful of securing the numbers required for a club. If successful, this club would be a potential starter in the next AFL Middle East season.
Unfortunately for Gibson, whilst he's, "been putting the word out to expats," there are limited Aussies in the country, "and the majority are rugby fans." In his own words, "it's tough to find anyone, let alone get a team together."
If you wish to get involved or can be of assistance to Nick email him at n_m_gibson [at] hotmail [dot] com
The Dubai Heat, who recently secured the AFL Middle East silverware, have won the 2009 Dubai 9s tournament. The tournament is now in its third year and featured a record eight teams, but quite remarkably, the Heat remain its only victors.
The below summary is courtesy of Dubai Dingoes Club President Phil Temple.
This year’s event saw the return of the Dubai Celts Gaelic Football Club and the arrival of the Bahrain Blues, a likely starter in the next AFL Middle East season. Abu Dhabi Falcons split into two sides, whilst the Dubai Dragons, Dubai Heat, Doha Kangaroos and tournament hosts the Dubai Dingoes also took part. Eight teams in total was the tournament’s largest to date.
The bulk of the sides in this year’s tournament are members of AFL Middle East. The Dubai Heat, Dubai Dragons and Doha Kangaroos are all attending. Abu Dhabi will split into two teams for the event. Noticeable absentees are runners-up the Muscat Magpies. Dubai’s Gaelic club the Celts will take part, as they have done in the past. Rounding out the group are the Bahrain Bombers, a potential precursor to a Bahraini side in next year’s AFL Middle East season.
For those interested in attending, the day begins at 8.30am with a draw to determine scheduling. Qualifying matches run until 1.05pm followed by finals which will conclude by 4pm. Each team will be involved in a minimum of four matches.
Food is available all day, the venue is fully licensed and there will be a bouncing castle for the kids. A gala dinner at Le Meridian Dubai will follow the event. This will include a memorabilia auction supporting the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.
Hot favourites the Dubai Heat have defeated the Muscat Magpies by nine points to claim the inaugural AFL Middle East VB Premiership, completing the season undefeated. Simon O'Keefe of the Muscat Magpies was awarded Best on Ground in the Grand Final.
Read on for a report of the day, courtesy of AFL Middle East Commercial Manager, Stephen Nugent.
Regular achievers the Dubai Heat will take on the Muscat Magpies this Friday to conclude the inaugural AFL Middle East season. The two clubs meet at The Sevens, a rugby stadium on the outskirts of Dubai. For those interested, the day kicks of at 11am and will also include Auskick, a reserves match between the Heat and the Dubai Dragons, and a playoff for third between the Dubai Dingoes and Abu Dhabi Falcons. Local media have committed to covering the event in print, on television and a local sports radio program.
Read on for a summary of the first season and a preview of the two Grand Finalists.
When the AFL announced that one of the teams partaking in the 2008 International Cup would be comprised of Israelis and Palestinians, a few voices in the international football community expressed skepticism. Whilst football competitions existed previously in Israel, there had been no major football news from the region in years. Some questioned whether the Peace Team's involvement in the tournament would lead to a football presence in Israel and Palestine afterwards or if it was simply an AFL publicity stunt.
Positive news from The Peres Centre for Peace today, suggests that the AFL made the right decision.
The AFL Middle East got underway on Friday 24 October, with three matches in three different Gulf countries. Over 400 spectators attended the matches, giving a strong indication that the league will be a success.
In a Dubai derby, the Heat defeated the newly-formed Dragons, whilst the city's third club ventured to Qatar to defeat the Doha Kangaroos. In the third match, the Muscat Magpies defeated the visiting Abu Dhabi Falcons.
AFL Middle East Commercial Manager Stephen Nugent gave us a run-down of first round results.