UAE Rugby and HSBC have been growing the game in the UAE for 10 years
UAE Rugby and HSBC have been growing the game in the UAE for 10 years Image Credit: Supplied

This year UAE Rugby and HSBC will celebrate a successful decade-long partnership that has focused on taking the game of rugby to the next generation of Emirati talent through the creation of a UAE-based Player Pathway Programme.

The Player Pathway Programme, supported by HSBC since its inception, which is ranked fourth in World Rugby’s ‘Get into Rugby’ Programme — a central part of the ongoing strategy to grow the game around the world, has seen 148,657 Emirati schoolchildren learning and developing in the game since it was forged in 2011.

Central to HSBC’s partnership with UAE Rugby is its desire to build a sustainable and accessible future for the sport and allowing more young people to experience the benefits that sport can bring. The Player Pathway Programme has opened up opportunities for tens of thousands of girls to pick up a rugby ball and play the game, often for the very first time. Of the 148,657 young Emirati nationals, 59,462 of have been female, a testament to the inclusive nature of both rugby and HSBC’s partnership Programmes.

After a forced hiatus at the end of 2019 due to the impact of COVID-19, the Player Pathway Programme is set to resume this year, with HSBC reinforcing its commitment to UAE Rugby by renewing the partnership until 2024.

Mohammad Sultan Al Zaabi, UAE Rugby Secretary General, said; “Our board is extremely proud with what UAE Rugby’s Player Pathway Programme has achieved since its inception and we are very grateful to our valued partner, HSBC, for their foresight and commitment to developing the Emirati players — both boys and girls — over the past 10-years, and now for a further four-years. We continue to have great aspirations for the future of our nation’s players, and through such support we are delighted that we are regularly able to field full Emirati representation in men’s and women’s Seven’s events, while we work toward a full Emirati women’s 15’s side as well.”

Simon Calder, Deputy CEO & COO HSBC UAE, said: “Extending our partnership with UAE Rugby comes at a special time, as 2021 is the year in which HSBC celebrates its 75th anniversary of opening for business here and the nation celebrates its own Golden Jubilee. The UAE has always inspired us to think big and the achievements of the Player Pathway Programme clearly fit that brief, embracing the shared values that promote teamwork, respect, inclusion and the will to succeed, together with a culture of health and wellness. With sport and live events beginning to open up across the region, we look forward to seeing even more children playing a sport that can offer them so much.”

As a co-principal partner of UAE Rugby’s Player Pathway Programme, HSBC also has an association with the UAE national teams, connecting the local business to the development pathway for both male and female players from grassroots up to the elite level of national team representation.

These efforts to grow the game have been duly rewarded with rugby being included in the Ministry of Education schools’ curriculum in 2017.

In addition to its UAE Rugby partnership, for over 10 years HSBC has been partner of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, an annual series of international rugby tournaments featuring national sevens teams. In that time, HSBC has been committed to driving meaningful change across the series, playing a crucial role in the coming together of the men’s and women’s series to position rugby sevens as a leader in gender equality in sport. This December the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will visit Dubai and will play host to both the men’s and women’s tournaments, bringing the best players from around the world to the heart of the UAE.