With the football season in Europe already in full flow, the local football community in Dubai are dusting off their own football boots, in preparation for the return of the Dubai Amateur Football League (DAFL).
Established since 2005, DAFL is the biggest amateur football league in the Middle East and currently operates with four open age 11 a side divisions and an over 35’s Veterans league.
League matches are played Monday to Thursday at Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence and The Sevens Stadium, on premium grass pitches that routinely host professional clubs winter training in Dubai.
The DAFL Premier Division is known for having the best amateur players in the region and a few familiar faces from the professional game as well. Past and present DAFL players include Nicolas Anelka (Arsenal/France), Joe Cole (Chelsea/England) and Christian Wilhelmsson (Roma/Sweden).
DAFL League Operations Director Neil Meldrum says this is the busiest time of the year:
“We have over 9000 registered users of the DAFL App and everyone has returned from summer break eager to get back on the pitch. There is a full schedule of pre-season matches in September before we kick off the league season on October 3rd. I’m really looking forward to this season as we welcome new teams into the league and see last year’s champions try to defend their crowns. Our 7 a side league starts on 19th September with 48 teams battling it out over an 8 week mini-season at Miracle Garden pitches”
As well as the 7s leagues and the five divisions of the 11-a-side league, DAFL is also supporting more social and casual football activity in a bid to encourage more people to get involved. League chairman Dean O’Grady explains:
“The Dubai Amateur Football League has a great reputation, for both organisation and the quality of football that is played. The standard of football has continually improved, and this sometimes makes it difficult for players short of fitness or a sufficient level of skill to get into the game”.
“We have spent time building a pyramid that will encourage new players to get involved and at the same time help players to build fitness and confidence so that if a player wants to play at amateur league level, then it is possible. We have casual matches multiple times each week. Players can book their slot on the DAFL App, pay using a digital wallet and then just turn up and play. We organize the teams to ensure a fun environment for players of different ages, abilities and gender. The ultimate message is that there is a place in the Dubai Amateur Football League for everyone”
The DAFL plays at various indoor and outdoor pitches throughout Dubai, six days a week. If you are interested in getting involved you can contact the League either by email email@example.com, by phone, +971585450864, visit www.dubaifootball.com or download the DAFL app from the AppStore or Google Playstore.