x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Former Dubai Hurricanes rugby player dies of cancer

Former Dubai Hurricanes rugby player Mothana Khafaji, who battled cancer for a year, died on Sunday in Colorado.

Mothana Khafaji, a former Dubai Hurricane’s rugby player, has been battling cancer since early last year. Photo courtesy of Khafaji family
Mothana Khafaji, a former Dubai Hurricane’s rugby player, has been battling cancer since early last year. Photo courtesy of Khafaji family

DUBAI // Former Dubai Hurricane’s rugby player Mothana Khafaji, who had battled cancer since early last year, died on Sunday in Colorado.

Khafaji – known to his friends as Moe – moved from Iraq to South Africa and then to Dubai in 2002, where he found a family in the Dubai Hurricanes rugby team.

“Moe was one of the nicest people you will ever meet,” said James Elliot-Square, a fellow Hurricanes player. “He always had a smile on his face; was always the first to greet and make new members feel at home.”

Khafaji moved back to Iraq in 2011 and was diagnosed with colon cancer early last year. After several operations and intensive chemotherapy and radiation in Jordan, he moved to the US to continue his treatment.

The organisers of “Row for Moe” – an event planned for April 19 and April 20 to raise funds for his treatment – say the 24-hour rowing challenge will go ahead as planned.

Money raised will go toward paying outstanding medical bills and extra funds will be donated to a local cancer charity in Khafaji’s name.

Mr Elliot-Square and Katie Pattison-Hart, who broke two Guinness World Records in 2011 by rowing across the Atlantic Ocean with a crew of five women, will take hour-long shifts to complete the endurance row at The Shack on Kite Surf Beach on Jumeirah Beach Road. “Katie and I are even more determined now to carry on with this row in Moe’s memory and fight even harder for the 24 hours,” said Mr Elliot-Square.

“The pain we feel in training is nothing,” added Ms Pattison-Hart. “How privileged we are to have so many choices in life.”

The public can get involved by paying Dh100 to compete in a CrossFit-style fitness challenge at gyms around Dubai in the lead-up to the row.

For more information, find the “Doe for Moe” group on Facebook.

“Come down and show your support for the legend that was Moe,” said Mr Elliot-Square. “His spirit will be with us for sure.”

malkhan@thenational.ae