Join a local league

Want to add a competitive edge to your fitness regime? Oliver Robinson looks at Dubai’s amateur sports leagues

Summer’s over. It’s official. Granted, it’s still pretty toasty outside, but it’s high time to leave the A/C-cooled house and start working off that summer belly. Of course, motivation is always an issue, which is why team sports are the way forward. Put it this way: if you can’t motivate yourself, some despotic team captain will be more than happy to shout in your ear. And as it happens, there’s a team, a sport and a league to suit everyone here in Dubai. Best get training, then. 


Local sports club Duplays organises a number of basketball leagues in the city. The Elite Basketball League ( features eight teams that compete over an eight-week season (from September to November). As the name suggests, teams are looking for players of ‘above-average skill’ who ‘play at a high level’ – those not up to slam-dunk standard can join Duplays’ Competitive Basketball League ( September also heralds the start of the new ‘Love and Basketball V’ league, especially for women.


Wherever you go in the world, the beautiful game is omnipresent. Dubai is no different, boasting no less than four leagues, each split into divisions. The Dubai Amateur Football League (; is perhaps the largest and most well-established football competition in Dubai, offering five-, seven- and 11-a-side leagues. This season, the DAFL will introduce Division Four to its 11-a-side contest, which organisers say will bridge the gap between competitive and social teams. Though the season starts on October 3, many teams have started their pre-season training already.

Alternatively, those who enjoy football of the social, five-a-side variety can join the E-Sports league (;; with games played every Monday and Saturday at Wellington School, or check out Duplays’ leagues ( Ladies looking for a kick-around should head to the Jebel Ali Shooting Club, where the Dubai Women’s Football Association (; holds its matches. There are about 15 teams competing in two divisions – the standard in Division 1 is pretty high, but social players can get involved in Division 2. Otherwise, ladies can join the Duplays five-a-side women’s indoor league. Back of the net.


For those unfamiliar with netball, it’s a bit like basketball without the bouncing. And it’s mainly for girls. Not that there’s anything wrong with this, it’s just you don’t meet many boys that play it. It’s their loss – netball is a challenging, fun and technical sport that boasts a fantastic social scene. The Dubai Netball League (; has about 23 teams playing across three divisions. Interested? Check out the DNL’s social tournament on September 17. After that, there will be three weeks of grading (a bit like a draft), before players are allocated to a team.


Rugger! Grrr. Never has there been a sport more closely associated with unbridled merrymaking and larks. But the Dubai rugby scene isn’t all about post-match revelry; it actually boasts great teams who participate
in a well-organised league. Contact details for all the Dubai-based teams – Exiles, Hurricanes, Frogs, TOA, Potbellies and Dragons – plus other teams across the region can be found on the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union website ( Most clubs have a first and second team, so social players are always welcome.


The winter season of the Dubai Softball League (; kicks off – or should that be pitches off? – in mid-September. The league consists of three divisions – Men’s A, Men’s B and a Co-ed division – and games take place every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. According to organiser John Larson, teams are always looking for new players. Those interested should email and they’ll be allocated a team. ‘We consider which teams need players, but we’ll also put you on a team with people who we think you’ll get along with,’ he explains. Sounds perfect to us.

Best of the rest

Despite there not being a regular field hockey league in the UAE, Dubai Hockey Club organises weekly matches, and runs an indoor league. The club also hosts touring sides from Australia, the UK, South Africa and Germany.

Gaelic Games
The Dubai Celts play both Gaelic football and hurling. There’s no Dubai league, but enthusiasts can train at The Sevens stadium every Monday and Thursday. Don’t miss the DDF Gulf Gaelic Games, which takes place every March.

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