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Dubai's old 'boys' gear up for action, hail DSC's decision

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on June 18, 2020

Veteran cricketer Freddy Sidhwa (right) and umpire Tariq Butt. - Supplied photo

Dubai resident Aneesh AM, who plays badminton at the India Club. — Supplied photo

The Dubai Sports Council on Thursday allowed children aged 12 and under and elders aged 60 and above to engage in sports activities

The young and the old 'boys' can finally go out and play ball. The Dubai Sports Council's (DSC) decision to allow children aged 12 and under and elders aged 60 and above to engage in sports activities received a massive cheer.

The DSC, on Thursday, announced the removal of all age restrictions on sporting activities.

And sportsmen and people who indulge in sports activities in Dubai welcomed the decision and are eager to get back to their favourite sport.

Freddy Sidhwa, one of the most famous faces in Dubai and UAE cricket circles is itching to get back but will have to wait another month as his picturesque facility Ocean Fair Club is undergoing a makeover.

"It is terrific news, of course. Now, we can restart what we were doing. But unfortunately I have dug up my pitch because we are redoing it. So, after about a month, we will be ready to play," Sidhwa told the Khaleej Times.

The 77-year-old, who has been playing cricket for decades now, never misses an opportunity but the past few months were hard for him.

"I was craving (to play) because every weekend was my cricketing day. And then, that had stopped since three and a half months now. It was a pretty bad time and it makes you more unfit when you are sitting at home," said the evergreen Sidhwa, who became the oldest player to win the Man of the Match award at Lord's in a tournament two years ago.

Meanwhile, Tariq Butt, the UAE's oldest and longest serving and most experienced cricket umpire, who like Sidhwa, lives and breathes cricket, is chuffed to return.

"I'm so delighted to hear this news. I've been waiting for this day," gushed Butt.

"Before, a lot of us involved in cricket would meet up and play. Even if I slept at 3 a.m, I would wake up at 6 a.m and head to the ground to start the matches and I would return home at 3 a.m. I umpire, organise matches, I keep myself involved somehow. Now, that routine was affected," said the 71-year-old former quarantine inspector with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Aneesh AM, who plays badminton at the India Club, too is eagerly waiting to return to the court.

"Of course we were a bit upset that people above 60 cannot indulge in sports activities. But that was a good decision considering the health risks. Now, since it is open, we are very happy that we can restart," said the 64-year-old.

Aneesh, who arrived in Dubai in 2004, plays to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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