DUBAI // Sophie Shams, 17, is one of the few Emiratis playing touch rugby.
The Dubai College schoolgirl, who plays for a team outside of school, serves as an inspiration not just for UAE nationals but for girls of all nationalities.
“Touch is one of the few sports that mixes talent from both sexes, forcing everyone on the pitch to constantly push themselves to higher limits,” she said.
“This is because the men bring their rugby skills into the game, making all the players square up and become stronger.
“I have learnt so much from watching and trying to imitate the moves and I love that because you are not just left on the wing to catch a long pass and get two points just because you’re a girl; you get to be involved in the whole game, and all the time.”
Sophie, who plays in the Middle East representative side at international level tournaments like the World Cup and European Championships (junior and open), said there is a growing number of girls taking to the game.
“There has been a massive increase in girls’ rugby and touch as schools have been taking more interest in it … It is a very young sport within the UAE and will take a while to get established,” she said.