Keep fit, meet new people and avoid gym boredom by joining Duplays’ sports leagues. Nyree Barrett investigates the more unusual options on offer
Requirements: quick reactions After starting out as a US gym-class staple, dodgeball shot to fame when Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller went head to head in box-office smash Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Dubai player Brian Sigafoos has been playing since primary school in the States and merits the game for its inclusivity. ‘I love it because anyone can play – it doesn’t require years of practice. It’s also a great excuse to ask work colleagues and acquaintances to come along and join in.’ Dodgeball is played on a surface the size of a volleyball court, and this year the local league will be held on the beach – it’s only the second time the league has been played in Dubai, so they’re keen to recruit some fresh faces. To up the ante, Duplays has even imported high-quality pro dodgeballs from the US. These guys mean business. The new league starts on March 21. Games will be on the beach, although the location is yet to be confirmed.
Requirements: being able to whack a ball The big difference between softball and baseball is that the ball is pitched underhand, which is less aggressive. ‘It’s just like baseball, but we play softball because it avoids injury,’ says Omar Shadman, who is a member of Duplays as well as the more competitive Dubai Softball League. ‘We still want to play competitively, but we’re not kids any more – in softball no one’s going to get hit hard enough to get hurt. This makes it a much more accessible sport.’ Softball is played at many levels in Dubai – if you’re a newbie, go for the Duplays co-ed league; more experienced or competitive players can try the DSL B or A leagues. Shadman says it’s a good, social group – people often come down just to watch and have a few drinks – but adds that it’s not the best choice if fitness is your only goal. ‘You don’t play softball to get in shape because it’s not good cardio,’ he advises. ‘But you might want to get in shape in order to play.’ The new league starts on March 29 at the Metropolitan Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, where Dubai Softball League is organising the Middle East Softball Championships on April 7-10. See www.dubaisoftball-league.com.
Requirements: sprinting ability Ultimate frisbee was born in late-’60s California as a hybrid of frisbee and American football. The local league is regarded as the friendliest on Duplays’ roster, which has a lot to do with organiser Katie Overy. ‘I always introduce newcomers to everyone. People are welcome to come and try it. If you don’t like it you don’t have to come back, but I guarantee you will!’ Overy hadn’t heard of the sport before signing up. ‘I assumed it just involved throwing a disc back and forth. Then I turned up and was like, hey, why is everyone running?!’ The game involves a lot of cardio (you have to get the disc into your team’s end zone by passing and intercepting). ‘I wouldn’t know where to start without Duplays,’ says Overy. ‘I doubt I’d have any other options except for the gym – no thanks!’ The new league starts on April 5 at the Metropolitan Hotel fields.
Requirements: finesse Table tennis started life in Britain in the early 1800s, when it was played at dinner parties over a table with a pile of books acting as a net. It’s now an Olympic sport that’s dominated by the Chinese, although Duplays’ league is more of an international affair – one of the players, Pakistani Muhammad Nauman, was born and raised in Dubai. ‘There aren’t many ways to meet people here, and what could be better than meeting people who like the same sports as you?’ Another plus is that it favours skill over brawn. ‘It’s a game of finesse – it’s not about how big you are,’ he explains. League games comprise 15-minute mixed sessions: the first player to 21 points wins the set, and the person with the most sets takes the game. It’s fast-paced and surprisingly addictive – we guarantee you’ll work up a sweat. The new league starts on April 17 at Wellington International School, Umm Suqeim, every Saturday at 6pm.