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HSBC Brings World Cup Winner Lewsey To UAE For Day Of Coaching With Local Kids And Arabian Gulf Rugby Team In Dubai And Abu Dhabi
(1 December 2010)

 

2003 World Cup winner and HSBC ambassador Josh Lewsey joined players both young and old in Dubai and Abu Dhabi today for a series of once in a lifetime coaching sessions designed to encourage participation in grassroots rugby in the UAE and provide support to the Middle East’s leading professional rugby team ahead of the biggest event of the year in the region.

The England international is in the UAE as an HSBC rugby ambassador ahead of the start of the inaugural HSBC Sevens World Series which starts in Dubai on Thursday 2nd December and runs until Saturday 4th.

This morning Lewsey joined the Arabian Gulf rugby team’s penultimate training sessions in Dubai before the start of the Sevens tournament in which they are competing against the top international teams in the world. Later that day he also attended the HSBC Rugby Festival at the British School Al Khubairat, putting over 100 local children through their paces in the latest grassroots rugby initiative supported by the world’s local bank.

The Arabian Gulf rugby team, featuring star player Khalid Helal, is the leading professional Sevens team in the Middle East and have a tough group at the Dubai tournament as they face Series champions Samoa as well as Kenya and Wales. England star Lewsey took part in a rigorous hour long training session this morning, spending time with the players to wish them luck for the weekend ahead and pass on some top tips. His appearance at their penultimate Dubai Sevens training session was greeted with great enthusiasm by their head coach Shane Thorton, known to the players as ‘Junior’.

“To have Josh here – someone that has reached the highest levels in our sport and knows what it takes to win major tournaments – is huge motivation to the squad ahead of the Sevens this weekend”, said Thorton. It is fantastic to have had his input into our preparations and his presence in the UAE this week thanks to HSBC can only serve to motivate more people to take an interest in the sport in the Middle East.”

Later in the afternoon Lewsey turned his attentions towards the grassroots of the sport in the UAE by taking part in the HSBC Rugby Festival at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi with over 100 local children. HSBC’s rugby partnerships in the Middle East are based around promoting the development of the sport at all levels and helping to stimulate interest at the grassroots. The presence of the World Cup winner was a big surprise to the assembled masses of rugby-mad children, all hoping to follow in Lewsey’s footsteps in the future. The former international spent almost three hours taking part in training drills, signing autographs, and talking the children through what it takes to be the best in the world.

Lyn Jones, Head of Rugby at the Al Khubairat school, described the effect that the session had on the children: “Increasing participation and interest in sport requires heroes for the younger generation to look up to and aspire to be like. Josh is such an inspirational player and the children here today have had the experience of a lifetime training with him. The impact that rugby festivals, like the ones that HSBC supports in the UAE, have on the local community cannot be overemphasised and it is fantastic that these kids have had the chance to learn from the best in the business.”

HSBC is a supporter of rugby worldwide from the elite levels of the sport through to grassroots development. The Dubai Sevens tournament marks the pinnacle of the sport in the Middle East and HSBC is a proud sponsor of the event which this year also marks the start of the new HSBC Sevens World Series. Josh will be undertaking a full programme of activities and events throughout this week aimed at raising awareness of the biggest rugby event in the UAE as well as encouraging youngsters from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to get involved in rugby.

Speaking ahead of the tournament, Josh said, “I have been impressed by Dubai’s energy and can’t wait for the weekend. With my love of sevens I am really looking forward to my first time at the tournament, and of course to cheering on the England team from the stands.”

To continue its grassroots rugby initiatives throughout the Dubai Sevens weekend, HSBC will this year be launching the TRY Rugby Zone at the tournament itself. Situated in the Fans Village behind the South Stand, the TRY Rugby zone is open to children of all ages who want to test out their rugby skills. There will be qualified coaches on hand to teach skills and drills, and both Josh and Jonah Lomu will be popping in to lend a hand and pass on their tips for budding rugby players, as well as signing autographs and posing for photos. There will also be free rugby gifts for all children who join in the rugby coaching sessions.

The HSBC Try Rugby zone, located behind the South Stand, is open from 11am – 5pm on both the 3rd and 4th December.
 

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