The Elburn Express 12U and Dubai Falcons, gather after their meeting on the diamond on June 26. The baseball lineup from the Middle East was on a tour of the Midwest before trying to qualify for the Little League World Series in Poland. Courtesy Photo
Express gives Dubai team local flavor
by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—It’s funny how a game like baseball can bring towns together.
But how about teams seperated by oceans and continents?
Such was the case for the Elburn Express 12U and a lineup from the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on June 26.
After the Express competed in a tournament in West Chicago on June 24 and 25, that also featured Dubai, the seeds were planted for a meeting between the Express and Dubai Falcons.
“The game is still new to them, but they were on a tour of the U.S. before playing in Poland to try and qualify for the Little League World Series (in Williamsport, Pa.),” Express coach Scott Glennon said. “They were the team that everyone was rooting for at the tournament. We discussed with their coaches about having them play us at the diamond in the middle of the cornfield and show them hospitality.”
The exhibition was set at McNair Field, and a unique experience took place for not only a team from a burgeoning financial and oil hub, but also for pre-teens familiar with the sport.
“My son, Brett, was wondering about Dubai, and we looked up a little bit about it on the Internet. It was a nice experience for our kids, and it showed them a little bit about life outside the Midwest,” Glennon said. “Dubai has a lot of ex-pats, and one of the parents of the kids had actually lived in Naperville.”
The Falcons were on a three-week tour, including two weeks stateside, and were also treated to a cookout.
“We felt a responsbility. They were 8,000 miles from home. They saw what competition is like here, and we tried to help them however we could,” Glennon said.
As is the case with most Middle Eastern kingdoms, soccer rules the day in the sporting world, but the local national pastime was able to wedge into children from the UAE for a summer weekend.
“We received an invite to eventually go over there, and they really enjoyed themselves. The coaches and parents and kids couldn’t have been nicer,” Glennon said.