The fact a runners up medal at the Emirates Dubai Sevens represents a quiet year for the country’s most prolific rugby school goes to show how lofty the standards for sport are at Dubai College.
And yet the 2021 tournament was not short of reasons to cheer for the Al Sufouh-based school.
On Saturday, on the other side of the venue to where the World Series rugby was unfolding, DC won the Open Youth netball tournament.
Coincidentally, the title was sealed via a final win over Dubai English Speaking College — the school who had beaten the boys’ rugby team in the final of the Gulf Under 19 tournament a day earlier.
DC have been serial winners ever since youth sport was first introduced to the annual National Day rugby festival, but this was their first title in the netball tournament.
“We had to keep our composure because they came fighting back in the second half,” Charlotte Clarke, DC’s goal attack and captain, said of the 10-5 win in the final.
“We were all so thrilled at the end. It was an amazing feeling. Personally, it is going to be my final sevens, so to be able to lift the trophy was amazing.”
Zainab Hussain Syed, one of the team’s two vice-captains, said the fact hundreds of people were watching the Court 2 final helped make the experience one to savour.
“It is always nerve-racking playing against very good teams, but we were really focused on the process and what we had trained on,” Hussain Syed said.
“The most nerve-racking thing was playing in front of a huge crowd, which we had never done before. We are not used to having a crowd. It is the pinnacle of what we look forward to playing.”
The trophy success was achieved without a key component of their side. Lauren Agent, the other co-vice-captain, was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the back in November.
She is expected to return to court in January, but the injury consigned her to a watching brief for the most anticipated tournament of the season.
And yet she revelled in the success of her teammates, especially given the final win came against the school who had upset their rugby-playing schoolmates the previous day.
“It felt like we wanted to redeem them, but playing a final against the same school really just felt like a fun fact,” Agent said.
“I was just very happy. I had suffered the injury six weeks ago and it was very depressing and upsetting to know I wasn’t going to be playing.
“I just tried to put my heart and soul into making the team better. Chief supporter was my role in the end.”
Lucia Sdao, a former England international who has been coaching netball at DC for the past 15 months, said the side have set a standard for sides to aspire to in future.
“They do early-mornings, lunchtimes, after-school, loads of strength and conditioning, and they have worked really hard so they deserve it,” Sdao said.
“They were a little nervous at the beginning of the tournament, but they had good starts in every game, so the nerves clearly didn’t last very long.
“It is the first time DC have won this, so it is a legacy that they Year 13s are leaving.”