Whether your New Year’s resolution is to try something new, get fit or make new friends, these sports teams will help you reach your (squad) goals
Abu Dhabi Falcons
What started out as a group of Australian friends playing footy in Abu Dhabi in 2007 turned into one of the leading Aussie rules football clubs in the UAE.
A contact sport that uses an oval ball, the main aim in Aussie rules is for players to score by kicking the ball between two goal posts. The sport may not be as well known as other ball sports outside of Oz, but it’s actually the oldest of the world’s major football codes, with the first laws of the sport coming into effect in 1859.
Eager to spread its wings in the sport, the Abu Dhabi Falcons trains weekly and competes in nine-a-side games against other UAE teams during the winter months. The club plays in the AFL Middle East league and welcomes players of all skill levels and backgrounds, as well as volunteers. Zayed Sports City. Tue 6.30pm. Contact: facebook.com/abudhabifalconsafc
Abu Dhabi Roller Derby
Girls rule in this team. Roller derby is new in the Middle East but this capital group is helping spread the word and has grown from three members in 2012 to 15, and now hopes to start competing.
Roller derby sees two teams of five skate around a track in an attempt to lap skaters of the opposing team. While it’s a fun sport, there’s a serious competitive edge that sees athletes blocking and knocking each other, but it’s all in the name of the game.
While anyone can join ADRD, you’ll need to pass a skills test first – mostly for safety. The team is always taking on new players and if you don’t have much experience skating they can teach you to refine your skills. You’ll also need your own quad skates and protective gear including knee and elbow pads, helmet and wrist and mouth guards.
Want to join? Head to one of the training sessions to meet the team and find out more, or get in touch through Facebook.
Men are welcome to register as a referee and can train with the group except in contact drills. Free. Zayed Sports City near entrance 26 of the main stadium. Sun, Wed 7pm-9pm. Contact: email@example.com or search for Abu Dhabi Roller Derby on Facebook.
Abu Dhabi Softball League
A variant of baseball, softball is played on a smaller field with a larger ball, and with seven rather than nine innings. The capital league specialises in slow-pitch softball using underarm pitching.
The league consists of two adult divisions: a recreational one for those looking for a more fun and casual experience, and a competitive one for more serious players. Adults of all skill levels can form teams, which come together to play each week at the purpose-built field in Zayed Sports City.
The recreational division plays on Wednesday nights from 7pm to 11pm and the competitive on Mondays from 7pm to 11pm. Equipment is available to borrow for free for all league members. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/abudhabisoftball
Abu Dhabi Water Polo Club
If you want a fitness challenge but still want to have fun, why not consider water polo?
A bit of a mix between football, handball and basketball, water polo is played in a pool where teams of seven try to throw a ball into the opposing team’s net.
The Abu Dhabi Water Polo Club, better known as the Hammerheads, is made up of members of all levels who enjoy playing the sport. The team welcomes players from novice up to international level and takes part in various competitions, including the upcoming Dubai International Water Polo Tournament in February.
The team’s training sessions take place at the Armed Forces Officers Club. There’s no registration fee but each training session costs AED 50. Wed 8.30pm. Contact: email@example.com or search for Abu Dhabi Water Polo Club on Facebook.
Fun, friendship and fitness. That’s what it’s all about at this dragon boating group, according to team secretary Jim Irwin.
Dragon boating is a sport aboard a human-powered watercraft, where teams compete to see who has the most paddle power.
The Capital Dragons, one of several Abu Dhabi-based teams, practises from the beach at the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club three times a week, and also host socials with a swim and breakfast on the weekends. Paddlers of all abilities and skill levels are welcome to join.
“We are a very social group and besides paddling, we like to get out for other adventures such as camping, scuba diving and trips on bigger boats – ones with sails and engines,” Jim adds. “Barbecues and brunches occasionally happen too.” #squadgoals
Membership is AED 1,000 for a full season, which includes entry to UAE Dragon Boat Association competitions across the country.
Theater Road, near Marina Mall. Mon, Wed and Sat 5pm, Fri 8am. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/capitaldragons
Abu Dhabi Wildcats
The sport of American football is one that needs no explanation. If you’re looking for the authentic experience, then look no further than the Abu Dhabi Wildcats, which offers a variety of programmes and competitions.
Head down to Al Forsan where organiser Tony Robinson says “you can learn about this sport and the life lessons that it teaches”.
Fees vary. Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Khalifa City. Sun, Tue 5.30pm-7.30pm and 8pm-10pm. Contact: email@example.com, facebook.com/abudhabiwildcats
Abu Dhabi Netball League
Similar to basketball, netball is played by two teams of seven on a rectangular court with raised goals at each end. Players have specific positions and roles, and can only hold onto the ball for three seconds before passing or shooting for the goal.
The Abu Dhabi Netball League is a women’s league with three levels from social to open grade, offering both fun and competitive options. Games are held every Tuesday evening, and players compete in an annual inter-Gulf competition.
AED 600 for the season. Zayed Sports City. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org,
United Arabian Ultimate
More than just a throw and catch pastime in the park, ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport using the flying disc.
Your source for ultimate Frisbee in the UAE, the United Arabian Ultimate (UAU) governing body of the sport hosts practice sessions and competitive tournaments throughout the year.
Jen Thomas of UAU tells us, “Ultimate is one of the most fun, inclusive and exhausting sports you could try. It’s easy to learn and difficult to master, so athletes of all abilities and skill levels will find it rewarding. The sport is co-ed and self-officiated – unique qualities we think make it even more appealing. If you’re looking to make tons of new friends from all walks of life, try out an activity that seems strange yet wonderful, or take on a new workout unlike anything else you have ever tried before, then Ultimate is definitely for you.”
In Abu Dhabi, free weekly pick-up games are held at the American Community School every Wednesday at 6.30pm for beginners and new members where you’ll only need a disc and cleats.
While there is no registration fee for pick-up games, tournament fees range from AED 75 to AED 150, while the Duplays league costs AED 600 per player for a 13-week season.
Lastly, UAU hosts several hat tournaments per year where players sign up and are randomly placed on teams. Contact: email@example.com, facebook.com/unitedarabianultimate
Abu Dhabi Harlequins
Another sport that needs no explanation is rugby, and if you’re familiar with the sport in Abu Dhabi, neither does the Harlequins.
Founded in 1970, the club has continued to grow over the past few decades along with the sport’s popularity in the UAE. The club’s various teams compete in a number of tournaments in the region and offers men’s, women’s, union, league and touch – a less physical version of rugby – programmes.
The teams are big on training in other forms of fitness too, so don’t expect an easy ride. Follow the club on Facebook to find out about upcoming tournaments where you can support the teams and meet the organisers to find out more.
From AED 1,950. Zayed Sports City. Mon, Wed 7pm. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, abudhabiquins.com
Abu Dhabi Scorpions
Ice hockey may seem like a strange hobby to have in the desert, but it’s a great team sport that’s gaining momentum in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi Scorpions hockey league offers the perfect opportunity to hone your abilities and test your skills against other players.
The Scorpions generally play one or two games per week at Zayed Sports City. There are two teams: a competitive “A” team that represents the Scorpions in tournaments across the UAE as part of Emirates Hockey League, and a recreational team that trains and plays on the weekends.
To find out more or register, contact: email@example.com,
Abu Dhabi Strollers
Fancy some footy? The Abu Dhabi Strollers Football Club (ADSFC) features over 70 players that train and play year-round.
Liam Clayton of ADSFC says, “ADSFC aims to play competitively both in training and in leagues and the standard of football at the club is high and competitive for amateur football. We welcome new players to the club who are reliable, have a positive attitude and have a high level of fitness and ability.”
To take part in the non-profit club, players must register and pay on a per-play basis.
Registered teams also compete in the Duplays 11-a-side league and the Mubadala Community seven-a-side league, so if you have a competitive edge you can test your skills here.