Ambassador Ikram gears up for Falcons test
Kick It Out ambassador Ikram Butt, will take his Pakistan Rugby League (PRL) to Dubai for their second international game of the year against the UAE Falcons on Friday 30 March at the World Famous Sport City Stadium, Dubai.
Rugby League continues to flourish in Pakistan with regular events being held at the Islamabad rugby club which is the one and only purpose built rugby facility in the whole of Pakistan. Four Universities are playing regularly and the interest in schools for rugby league continues to grow.
The game against the UAE Falcons will be the Pakistanis second international outing and demonstrates their ambitions and intentions to develop the game of rugby league throughout South Asia and further afield with a mouth watering clash between the Indian Rugby League Association currently being discussed to be hosted in Islamabad, Pakistan, towards the end of the year.
Rugby League in the UAE has been dormant over the past few years, however, during the PRL’ s visit to Dubai last November, Ikram Butt, MD of BARA and one of the founding members of the PRL, approached the UAE Falcons to discuss working together in partnership and looked at ways of developing the game in both countries.
Ikram Butt, commented ”We are delighted to be working in partnership with the UAE and see this game developing into a regular event. Prior to our discussions there was not a great deal of rugby league going on in the UAE. However, following a very positive meeting with Sol Mokdad, Chairman of the Emirates NRL, rugby league in the UAE has been resurrected and we look forward in playing our part in strengthening our ties between the two countries.”
In preparation for the visit of the Pakistanis, the UAE Falcons have been organising trials at various locations throughout the UAE and have plans in place to play a three match ‘State of Origin’ between league players based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Hasan Pooya, Chairman of Pakistan Rugby League, added ”The PRL are committed to developing the game of rugby league in Pakistan and playing games against BARLA and the forth coming clash between the Falcons allows us to raise the awareness and profile of rugby league in Pakistan and abroad. As such these games have a positive impact, assisting us to encourage more schools, colleges and universities to take up the game of rugby league in Pakistan.”
Pooya added, ”We are very grateful to BARLA and Sol Mokdad, Chairman of Emirates NRL for working in partnership with the PRL.”
Sol Mokdad, added ”Negotiations with the PRL have gone very smoothly and we look forward to hosting the PRL in Dubai in an event and partnership which I’m sure will continue to prosper to benefit both countries and the game of rugby league. This event is the first in a number of events we are planning to host to establish and regain our observer status with the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF).”
Ikram, the founder of BARA, is recognised as one of the most influential Asian role models in the country and was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Sport Science by Leeds Metropolitan University for his pioneering sport development initiatives within the UK and abroad.