Long one of the most popular sports across the US, American football is now gaining popularity worldwide and increasing numbers are signing up to give the fast-paced, tactical game a go. We got in touch with Julie Teperow, Dubai youth co-ordinator of EAFL, to find out more.
How long has the football league been running?
It’s a UAE-wide league that’s been running since September 2012 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain with four divisions: peewee for ages 9-11, junior varsity for ages 12-14, varsity for ages 15-18 and the men’s league for those aged 19 or over.
Do you need to be an experienced player to join the league?
No, the great thing about American football in the UAE is that the majority of our players sign up with no experience whatsoever. At the start of the current season, for example, about 60 percent of the league were complete beginners, and the coaches do initially coach at a beginner level.
What are some of the things people should know before getting involved?
Well, I’d say the first thing is that it’s physically challenging. Although it’s okay to show up out of shape, the sport will demand that you increase your fitness levels – and if you stick with it that will definitely happen quickly. The second thing is that the sport does require commitment to succeed, in an athletic sense but also in the sense of your ability to play the game. You really do have to come to all the practices and show up to all the games to get the most out of it.
Why would you recommend getting involved?
Football works your mind as well as your body. It’s a very complicated sport that requires something from every position on game day, and because of that, it’s also a sport for everyone.
Are there any ways for girls to get involved with the sport in the UAE?
Once the season ends in March, we hold a mixed Discover Football programme for ages six to eight, which is simply skills and drills with no contact. Next season, we hope to be running both mixed flag football and girls-only flag football in addition to cheerleading, so any girl interested in any of those activities should contact me so that we can get in touch with them when those activities take place.
Practice sessions: Men’s league: Sun & Tue 8pm-10pm; other leagues:Sun & Tue 5.30pm-7.30pm. Dubai Sports City, www.eafl.ae (no number).