The Oman Gaelic Athletic Association (known as Oman GAA) is on the verge of making the country proud again after winning the trophy at the Etihad Airways GAA World Games in Ireland last year.
This year, the fever of Gaelic, an Irish team sport, kicked off with full zeal and enthusiasm in Dubai where more than 100 teams from the Middle East participated, playing in various groups while Oman GAA Men’s Junior B stole the limelight with its tremendous victory for the Silver Plate.
“It was a great achievement for our club to return home as winners for the first time in any of the tournaments, apart from the World Games,” said a 28-year-old local resident and the Vice Captain of the men’s junior team Hamdan Al Maamari.
“This is just the beginning. If we keep playing with same passion and spirit, we will be undefeatable in each tournament.”
Furthermore, acknowledging Hamdan’s statement, the captain for the men’s team Sean Mackin added that “after winning the first trophy in the first season and making history, we plan to build on this throughout the season”.
In the past three years, the club has grown by leaps and bounds. From the Middle East to Ireland and back again, the only club in the region to have locals on the team has surprised every Irish person.
“We have introduced a little known sport to a little known country and the results speak for themselves,” said Fiona, an Irish woman, who has been a part of the club since 2014.
“Although there are less women playing in the club, the ladies team has achieved just as much as the men, if not more.”
Although, this year the women’s junior team didn’t return home with any accolade, but they gave a tough fight throughout the tournament and lost the battle in the semifinals.
“It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. What matters is we go out there, give our best and enjoy the game,” said Khadija Abubaker Al Bakri, who played as a forward for the team and was introduced to this sport while studying in Finland.
Paul Heatley, the coach for the club who recently moved from Qatar, has been involved with Oman GAA for a little over two months. “I have been highly impressed by the skill level and understanding of the game the members had upon my arrival,” said Paul.
“At Oman GAA, we consist of many nationalities but we are all one family.” Both men and women’s team are full of high spirits to win the next tournament scheduled to be held in Bahrain on November 17.
“This was my first experience of playing Gaelic football and I really enjoyed it,” said Leah Smith, who has been in Oman for merely two months and is working as a PE teacher at one of the private schools in Muscat. “I can’t wait for the next tournament in Bahrain.”