Our columnist asks if football great can inspire a generation of Dubai sports stars
When I was growing up, the kind of sporting idols I looked up to were my PE teacher, Alan Shearer and Diego Maradona at the ’86 football World Cup. I didn’t think that Diego would be acting as my role model again almost 30 years later. Soon after London 2012 ‘inspired a generation’, Dubai now has its very own role model – in the form of one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen. It also comes in the form of a man who hasn’t been that great since hanging up his boots.
Diego Maradona is now charged with getting people playing sport in Dubai, as he teams up with Dubai Sports Council to become an ‘ambassador of sport’. Would Maradona inspire you? Well, he clearly didn’t manage to inspire his Al Wasl players into performing, but there is always the chance that his history in the game will encourage the nation’s kids to get off the sofa and kick a ball about. And a very lucrative history it is too, bearing in mind the salary he’ll be earning: a reported Dhs800,000 a month. Get inspiring, Diego.
There’s no denying that the heat of summer is finally fading, and with that we know the Dubai Rugby Sevens isn’t too far away. I’d like to mention the special Joining Jack team, which has been put together by former Wigan Warriors player Andy Johnson. Along with some famous players, including former rugby pros Kris Radlinski and Andy Farrell, the guys aim to raise awareness of the Joining Jack charity, which was set up in aid of Johnson’s young son, who has been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.
And another thing… Padel tennis is now one of Spain’s most-played sports. Courts are now popping up around Dubai and, as the weather cools, it’s well worth a go: it’s a mix of tennis and squash, and is great exercise. Emirates Golf Club is the latest to jump on board, opening three courts dedicated to what they’re calling a ‘highly addictive’ sport. Give it a go – and let us know if it has anything to do with boats.