Tom Bushell talks sport

International football and triatholons in the UAE

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Australian defender Lucas Neill may have left Dubai football club Al Wasl recently, but I’m keen to see more big names out here. Not just on full-time contracts, but for winter training and pre-season friendlies. AC Milan, PSG and England have used Dubai as a base, and Manchester United were in Doha not too long ago. It means Dubai could, and should, tout itself as a destination for international friendlies.

England play Brazil this week in a friendly at Wembley, part of the English Football Association’s 150-year celebrations and also a reminder that we can have a bit of fun with international friendlies. So many friendlies these days are played on neutral grounds. Australia are playing Romania soon in Spain. We’ve seen England play Italy in Switzerland too. Dubai could get in on this action: it could host England v Australia, for instance. The city is perfectly placed for fans in both those countries, and for fans here too. A 50,000-seater football stadium in Dubai would attract some big fixtures, and the UAE team deserve a national home stadium after their Gulf Cup win.

Did you know that a footballer, on average, runs about 13km a game? (Unless you’re Michael Owen who just sits on the bench.) That’s nothing: try running 13km with a swim and a cycle too. That’s what triathlons are all about, and they’re becoming more popular in the UAE. TriYas happens this week on Friday February 8, and the Abu Dhabi Triathlon is back soon: the latter will even feature Alastair Brownlee, the Olympic Team GB gold medallist. There is plenty of scope to give it a go in Dubai, with schools trying to get kids into the sport. F1 driver Jenson Button loves his triathlons and was spotted at Dubai Autodrome last year doing some training: he ran about 10 laps in one go. He probably did some swimming in that puddle in the tunnel as you approach the Autodrome too.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.

One more thing

The Desert Swing has passed: three golf tournaments in the region ended when the Desert Classic came to a close last week. The next golf event is the end-of-season championship at the Earth course in November. What are we going to do? Play golf on the PlayStation perhaps, or hit the course yourself. Unfortunately, unlike Tiger Woods and Rory McIloy, you won’t be paid US$25 million for your efforts. Yet…

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