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Dubai: How these young athletes practiced at 6am to beat the peak summer heat in an all-female sports tournament – News

Dubai’s Sevens Stadium hosted the event with a women’s netball and rugby tournament

By Adeena Siddiqui

Published: Monday, October 23, 2023, 12:24 pm

The Dubai Sevens Stadium on Saturday hosted the second annual SAXO 7, which included a netball and rugby tournament exclusively for women and girls, held simultaneously with TribFest, a tribute music festival.

The event provided a platform for female athletes from the region to showcase their skills, engage in friendly competitions and promote gender equality in sports.

Former England basketball captain Pamela Cookey flew in from the UK for the event. She helped with the netball training sessions and cheered the girls on throughout the day-long event.

Pamela also took time to sign autographs and take photos with fans. “The fact that you have so many girls playing, you don’t get that opportunity a lot of times, so SAXO putting this together and the whole netball community investing in it has been fantastic,” Cookey said. She advised netball enthusiasts to enjoy the game, saying: “I always played my best netball when I was having fun and smiling.”

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The netball tournament included five teams from Dubai, one from Al Ain and one from Sharjah, and two visiting teams from the United Kingdom. The Dubai Hurricanes netball team said it had been training at Sevens Stadium for two months before the event, as early as 6am to beat the summer heat.

The rugby tournament saw the participation of twelve teams from all over the country and the Dubai Hurricanes emerged as winners. Rugby tournament director Shirley, whose own daughter took part in the event, praised the community spirit among athletes and the social opportunities the sport offers young women. Shirley said she was glad her daughter had “older women” to look up to and watch play to see her abilities and see where she will be in a few years.

Nakheel set up hair braiding and glitter painting booths, allowing everyone in attendance to come together and embrace the spirit of the day.

The event’s emcee, Katie Overy, commented: “I love seeing women and girls playing sport,” as she did not witness many women or girls participating in rugby during her own upbringing.

Also present on the day were representatives from SAXO Bank, including Tara Tyan, Chief Marketing Officer, and Nicholas Wright, Regional Head of Institutional Business for MENA. Tara explained: “We are not a traditional retail bank. We are an investment bank and our purpose is to empower people, especially women, to take care of their financial future. “Sports have traditionally been very male-dominated, so we see an opportunity for women to thrive in this space and empower them at every stage of their lives.”

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