FIRST INTERNATIONAL BRANCH OF FAMED NEW ZEALAND RUGBY SMALL BLACKS.
"WHEN WE GOT THE CHANCE TO SHARE THE SMALL BLACKS EXPERIENCE WITH BOYS AND GIRLS IN THE UAE, WE COULDN'T WAIT TO GET STARTED" - STEVE LANCASTER, NZR
New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) famed Small Blacks brand is going global with the Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub (ADCSH) in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) becoming the historic first international home of the acclaimed junior coaching resource.
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will launch this month becoming NZR’s only officially licensed grassroots development programme outside of New Zealand. Girls and boys between three to 16 years will be able to become Small Blacks Abu Dhabi members, with no previous rugby experience needed to enrol in any age group.
NZR Commercial CEO Richard Thomas said: “This is an exciting partnership for New Zealand Rugby to broaden the reach of the Small Blacks brand and create new relationships for our development programmes. We have been impressed by the care and passion Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub has shown for growing rugby in the UAE and we believe Small Blacks can help grow the game in emerging markets and foster some lasting relationships.”
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi builds on an existing NZR/ADCSH partnership which has seen the Black Ferns and All Blacks sevens teams using the Hub’s training facilities in the lead-up to major international competitions since 2017. During that time New Zealand players and coaches have conducted community coaching sessions with players from all over the UAE.
We have been impressed by the care and passion Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub has shown for growing rugby in the UAE and we believe Small Blacks can help grow the game in emerging markets and foster some lasting relationships.
Richard Thomas, NZR Commercial CEO
Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub CEO Matt Boucher said: “We couldn’t be prouder that New Zealand Rugby has entrusted us with the Small Blacks’ first international out-post and look forward to building on our existing relationship to establish a longer-term partnership between us.
“At Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub we look to partner Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the world’s premium rights holders to host international sport in the UAE capital, while providing a world-class community-focused facility for a growing customer base of 760,000 annually who play the 35 sports that we offer.
“The All Blacks are the standard bearers for international rugby and one of the most recognisable brands in world sport. We share their inherent values of integrity, teamwork, and community enhancement. This historic partnership demonstrates the hub’s deep commitment to providing exceptional sporting opportunities to our community and to ensuring Abu Dhabi’s name resonates with the world’s greatest sporting brands and aspiring talent.”
NZR General Manager Community Rugby Steve Lancaster added: “The Small Blacks brand has been developed over more than 20 years with thousands of Kiwi kids and coaches having fun participating in rugby and developing their skills, including numerous All Blacks and Black Ferns. When we got the chance to share the Small Blacks experience with young boys and girls in the UAE we couldn’t wait to get started.”
Through the Small Blacks, NZR has carefully curated a participation-based community programme, with an overarching philosophy that the game must be safe and enjoyable for all.
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will use this blueprint to engage and educate children across the region, allowing young players the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills as they progress through the age groups, with skill development and stringent safety measures a major focus for the coaches.
Once launched, Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will formally absorb Abu Dhabi Cricket & Sports Hub’s 10-month- old rugby product, with 245 boys and girls being led by 12 World Rugby-certified coaches under the direction of New Zealand-born Aaron Persico, who represented Italy 56 times and played at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Small Blacks Abu Dhabi will participate in regional tournaments and UAERF rugby fixtures across the season, which runs from 5 September 2022 to 6 May 2023. Seasonal prices are AED 1,450 (U4-U8) and AED 1,950 (U9-U16), additional indoor and outdoor specialized skills camps will run throughout the season to keep rugby running all-year round.
Players can enrol today and interested parents can contact 0502382309 and log on to www.smallblacksabudhabi.com to get involved and find out more information about family membership options.