Desert Cubs: A sports academy that aims to take cricket to Emiratis Filed on November 22, 2020
Desert Cubs Sports Academy, which has opened its new branch in Mirdif, is offering free cricket coaching to UAE nationals. (Supplied photo)

In line with the Emirates Cricket Board’s vision of taking cricket to the Emiratis, the Desert Cubs Sports Academy has left no stone unturned in their attempt to draw the local talent to the sport.

Having opened their seventh Dubai branch at Uptown International School, Mirdif, Presley Polonnowita, the founder and head coach of Desert Cubs Sports Academy, said encouraging UAE nationals to play cricket remains high on his priority list.

“We launched our new branch on November 6. We knew there was a need for a top class academy in Mirdif area. Also we will focus more on beginners (children aged between five and 15). We have trained coaches for beginners. And our chief guest was former UAE cricket team captain Mohammad Tauqir,” Polonnowita told Khaleej Times.

Tauqir, a UAE national who led the country’s cricket team in the 2015 World Cup, has two sons -- Obaid Tauqir and Omar Tauqir—with promising cricket careers ahead of them.

“His two sons have been playing for the Desert Cubs team at the under 13 and under 19 level. His younger son is Omar who plays as a left-arm spinner and an opening batsman in our under 13 team,” said Polonnowita.

“And Obaid is the captain of one of our under 19 teams and he has already represented the UAE as a local boy.

“That’s one of our great achievements in terms of promoting locals in the game. As of now we have three local children training with us across our seven centres.”

To draw more UAE nationals to cricket, Polonnowita says his academy is offering free coaching to Emirati children.

“We are trying to promote local talent. We have in fact offered free coaching to Emiratis across seven centres (Sharjah English School,

Jumeira Baccalaureate School, DPS Jebel Ali, Springdale School, Al Quoz, Uptown International School, Mirdif, and MSB Private School Al Nahda),” he said.

“Whoever wants to come and learn cricket, we will provide them with free coaching. It’s free for local boys and girls who want to take up the sport.”

Polonnowita, who had played with Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Dharmasena in the Sri Lankan under 18 team, says it’s Tauqir who has inspired him to take this initiative to promote cricket among the locals in the UAE.

“Mr Tauqir has been a role model for UAE cricket. I have known him for a long time, having played club cricket with him. We have the same aim, which is to promote cricket among UAE nationals,” the veteran coach said.

“Tauqir is playing a major role. I know he is speaking to many UAE families to encourage them to send their children to play cricket.”


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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