Our 'Fit to Teach' feature this week focuses on a young teacher whose success on the netball court is inspiring her young students to be reach for the stars.
It may be 24-year old Alana Clark's first year in Dubai, but the young Scot has wasted no time in throwing herself into Dubai's thriving netball scene. Not only did the JPS PE teacher win the Dubai Premier League with her team (Hornets), she was also chosen to represent (and captain) the Dubai B team in the prestigious inter-gulf tournament last month.
We caught up with Alana to get her take on the netball scene in Dubai, and find out if she thinks her own achievements have had a knock-on effect with her students.
When did you start playing netball?
“I have played netball for 13 years now, starting at school level then continuing up to national level. I played throughout secondary school and university. When I took the job at JPS I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep playing netball, but I’ve been amazed at the opportunities since moving to Dubai in August.”
What do you think of the netball scene here in Dubai?
The opportunities the kids are given to develop over here are amazing. Children as young as six years old can join a team and compete in leagues and tournaments, and what’s also great is that young players of a high standard can participate in the adult league, which is fantastic for their development.”
"On a social side, there are also many PE teachers and parents that play in the leagues, so it’s a great way to meet people with similar interests.”
Who do you play for and how’s your season gone?
“I play for the Hornets in the Monday and Wednesday leagues. It’s been a great year for us, and we were fortunate enough to take the Premier League title earlier this month.”
You also captained the Dubai B team at the recent inter-gulf tournament. How were you selected and how was the experience?
"The format was an open trial, so everyone playing in the Wednesday DNL League was invited to try-out for the team. As you can imagine, it was extremely competitive, but great fun at the same tie, and I was lucky enough to be selected as the captain of the Dubai B team, which was a great privilege.”
Was it hard combining work with extra training/matches at that time?
“I was training four times a week alongside playing two games, so it was really difficult to fit everything in. Luckily, I survived the month (with very little sleep), and in the end, it was all worth it when we played a great weekend of netball with all other teams from across the middle east.”
Do you think your personal achievements have led to improvements in your students’ game?
"Playing at a high level of netball has a great impact on the students I teach. They’re more engaged in my lessons as they are aware of my passion for netball and are keen to become better players themselves. I also voluntarily help with my year 6 girls on a Friday morning as they play in the junior league, which has also helped me build relationships with the pupils out with school and they appreciate all your support and help."
What are your hopes for the future with regards to your netball career?
“I have reached a level in which I had always dreamed at played so therefore I am happy to play at the level which I am at just now – premier league, which is the highest level in Dubai at the moment. I would love to go more into coaching netball and increasing the netball participation across Dubai, it is my dream to inspire young girls to start netball and progress up to the highest level in netball as I think it is an amazing sport for girls and it is important at all ages to be involved in physical activity."
To find out more about the netball leagues and opportunities for all ages and abilities in Dubai, check out dubainetballleague.com