Five-a-side football in Dubai

Enter the Nations Cup and lead your country to glory


With the Euro 2012 football tournament now over, you’ll need to make it up to your other half/flatmate/best mate for a month of late-night absences, then start scouting for the next fix of football. As it happens, Duplays’ five-a-side Nations Cup at Dubai Sports World on Friday July 13 couldn’t have come at a better time.

Duplays is the city’s most omnipresent organiser of recreational leagues, with a finger in almost every sporting pie in the city. According to operations manager Muhammad Nauman, football is not only Duplays’ most popular sport, it’s also the top sport in Dubai. ‘In the Duplays leagues alone we have about 100 teams participating on a seasonal basis across outdoor seven-a-side and indoor five-a-side leagues,’ he says. ‘It’s definitely the biggest sport in the city.’

It’s surprising, then, to note that Duplays is yet to introduce a year-round women’s league, although it’s running a one-off at Dubai Sports World this summer. ‘We haven’t experimented with a proper league format for women,’ Nauman explains. ‘But we hope to establish one in future.’

Each year, Duplays runs four seasons of both men’s five and seven-a-side, with two ability levels. ‘We have a recreational level for beginners, or anyone who prefers playing the more social side of the sport, and then there’s the competitive level for more seasoned teams who’ve been playing with us for a year or two, and prefer a higher level of competition,’ explains Nauman. He also notes that there are a number of other leagues around Dubai, including those put on by the IFA and Ahdaaf.

On top of that, Duplays runs a number of short one-off tournaments, such as the Media Moguls Cup and the Oil and Gas Cup, which are aimed exclusively at employees in those industries. The Nations Cup at Dubai Sports World on Friday July 13 is another one-off tournament, but instead of taking place over a period of a few weeks, it’s a one-day-only event that promises to provide friendly competitive spirit between the nations taking part. Each ‘national’ team must comprise at least three players holding passports from that nation, and there can be a maximum of four teams from each country.

When the tournament was last held two years ago, 18 countries were represented by the 48 teams who played, and Duplays is anticipating similar figures this year. If you fancy winning a fistful of sports vouchers, sign up now – there are far worse ways to win back a few of the dirhams you splashed out on drinks tokens during Euro 2012.

Entry for the Nations Cup costs Dhs1,000 per team of up to seven players. 11am-7pm, Friday July 13 at Dubai World Trade Centre,

Where to play

Need some practice over summer? Try these…

This 1,860 sq m indoor sports club offers FIFA-standard synthetic grass pitches, and is hosting a corporate five-a-side tournament during Ramadan. You can also book your own pitch.
Dhs2,500 per team for tournament (start date TBC), Dhs350 per hour for private hire for five-a-side (10 people). Al Quoz (04 347 7666).

Football Center
This indoor centre is still firming up plans for its summer league, but pitch hire is available for groups wanting to stage their own games.
From Dhs500 per hour per team of five. Open daily 9am-midnight. Football Center, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 348 3869).

Though six-a-side rather than five, IFA is one of Dubai’s best-known football academies. There are leagues for women, men and veterans, and the standard is high.
Dhs350-400 per player per season. Mon 7pm-10pm (men’s), Sun 7pm-10pm (women’s seven-a-side). Emirates English Speaking School, Jumeirah (04 454 1683).

Two new social two-week five-a-side leagues will start on Monday July 23 or Tuesday 24 at Dubai Sports World, with sign-up now open to teams and individuals.
From Dhs150 per person for two-week leagues. (04 447 2394).

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