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Athletes take time out for Dubai orphans

DUBAI // Dozens of athletes and celebrities took part in the Dubai Sports Council’s initiative for orphans in the emirate.

More than 100 children between the ages of seven and 16 were given the opportunity to play with professional athletes, most of whom volunteered to take part in the event during their off seasons.

The event took place at Dubai Sports World at the World Trade Centre.

Coach Mahdi Ali, of the UAE football national team, was present as well as the women’s Al Nasr basketball team and the women’s Al Wasl Club volleyball team. Also there to show his support was UAE singer Abdullah Bil Khair.

Manal Marwan, 19, of the Al Wasl Club, said she was glad to participate in yesterday’s event to make the children happy.

“I think sports will be helpful to these children because it will allow them to get attention and find happiness and we want to encourage them to take part in sports,” she said.

Shamsa Darwish, 26, of Al Nasr Club’s basketball team, said it was all about providing the children with an opportunity for a change of scenery.

Her teammate Sara Al Falasy, 25, said that the team was on board when they were told about taking part in a humanitarian initiative.

“We loved the idea a lot,” she said.

“We are on our off season but felt like we have to participate in this event and feel the happiness with the children.”

Emirati Hind Abdullah, 7, said that she loved to play basketball.

“I have played before and I like it very much,” she said.

“I hope to one day play with the Al Nasr Club.”

Hamda Ibrahim, 12, also from the UAE, said her favourite sport was also basketball. “I am so happy to play with the team of girls here,” she said.

Seven-year-old Rashed said it was his first time playing the basketball but it was something he really enjoyed and would want to do again.

Meanwhile, Benjamin van Rooyen, of the UAE Rugby Federation, said the team wanted to get the children into the game and teach them its principles.

“We also picked up talent today,” he said.

“We want to challenge these kids and if they do like the game we want to make sure they get into the club structure. We have clubs more than willing to take kids.”

Yousef Shaker, assistant coach of the UAE rugby sevens team, said it was his pleasure to take part in such a special day.

“We hope to bring these children some joy by something as simple as playing sport,” he said. “At this age, they can really grasp the concept of rugby.”

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(via The National)