The UAENA recently became a member of the INF ©UAENA

The United Arab Emirates Netball Association (UAENA) will now be able to compete in worldwide events following their integration into the International Netball Federation (INF) on November 21.

Netball has increased in popularity in the UAE with nearly 1,000 playing the sport on a weekly basis.

However, there had previously been no official recognition of the sport at a national level, but the UAENA will now come under the umbrella of the UAE Basketball Association, with several key netball figures on the Advisory Board.

UAENA’s integration means they are now also an official member of Netball Europe, giving them the opportunity to send an U17 team and an open team to the 2018 Netball Europe Championships.

The U17 tournament takes place in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, from March 2 to 4 and the Open Challenge competition will be held in Gibraltar from May 10 to 13.

The UAE squads will play against some of the best teams in Europe, including England, Ireland and Scotland with the open team also competing for a world ranking in Gibraltar.

Chair of Netball Europe Lyn Carpenter, right, expressed her delight at the UAENA becoming members of the INF ©Getty Images
Chair of Netball Europe Lyn Carpenter, right, expressed her delight at the UAENA becoming members of the INF ©Getty Images

Although netball is predominantly played by expats in the UAE, the UAENA are hoping that, with the support of Government, the number of Emirati women will increase.

The UAENA, which currently operates on an entirely voluntary basis, are also launching several initiatives over the next few years, which will see UAENA representatives visiting schools to provide them with equipment.

Additionally, the possibility of joint events between the country’s women’s football and rugby teams are being mooted.

The long-term target is to see UAE host the Netball European Championships.

Chair of the UAENA Advisory Board Omar Shams commented on his organisation’s integration into the INF.

“I am delighted that the hard work over the last few years to get UAENA up and running has paid off, and that we now have official recognition for this exciting sport,” he said.

"Being granted membership of Netball Europe is a huge step forward and we are excited that the UAE will be making its debut next year in the Netball Europe championships.

“Our job now is to secure the long-term future of the sport, and to get more Emirati girls and women involved in the game.”

Lyn Carpenter, chair of Netball Europe added: “Netball has taken huge strides as a globally recognised sport and it’s great to see countries like the UAE, where netball hasn’t always been a part of the core curriculum, seizing this opportunity.

“We look forward to seeing the two UAE teams playing in our Championship next year.”