Orlagh Dempsey

  • PE Teacher
  • Leading figure developing the culture of youth sport in UAE

Orlagh Dempsey


Orlagh is 27, a PE teacher and leading figure in developing youth sport culture in the UAE.

Orlagh has had a love of sport from an early age, playing Gaelic football and soccer to a high level. Orlagh went on to play in the Dubai 7s for several years and was awarded the accolades 'Players Player of the Year' and 'Seven's Player of the Year'.

After moving to the UAE, Orlagh set up the first women's rugby team in Ras Al Kaimah, an area with very few options for women to participate in sport. She has worked tirelessly to inspire other young women to take up sport, both in a professional capacity and in her community.

When Orlagh isn't on the rugby pitch or teaching the next generation of superstars, you'll find her completing aquathlons, duathlons in the desert, or drinking espressos in between sets of deadlifts in the gym.

Orlagh is as passionate about inspiring others to discover their potential through sport as she is eager for new horizons herself. Through her participation in The Great Pacific Race, she is determined to push her limits and inspire others to dream big and thrive outside of their comfort zone.


Orlagh is 27 and currently working in physical health & education as a lead, developing programs to progress the culture of sport in the United Arab Emirates.

Growing up in Ireland, sports and fitness have always been an integral part of Orlagh’s life. She has always been committed to playing competitive sports, including Gaelic football and soccer. That same passion has driven her career today.

When she moved to the UAE she went on to start the first women’s rugby team in Ras Al Khaimah. In an area which didn’t have many options for women’s sports, she advocated for girls all over the world and broke stereotypes as one of the clubs founding female members. She played three consecutive years in the Dubai Rugby 7’s leading the team and earning recognition as Players' Player of the Year, as well as Sevens Player of the Year in consecutive years.

She has also been selected and participated in the Gov Games, which is a team competition that comprises a series of mental and physical challenges that was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Orlagh has proved that she is up for any challenge and rises to every occasion. She is eager to continue to develop and achieve in different arenas. She is ready for new horizons. Like the race itself, she believes that life is about sailing outside of your comfort zone. It is truly about the journey and who you become along the way.

Race Motivation

Because when opportunity knocks, you answer, accept and rise to the challenge.

In order to find new limits, I have to push past the only ones I know.

Honestly, the number one reason why I agree to challenges, or get involved in events is because “no, I couldn’t do that”, has never entered my mind.

I believe this comes from being truly blessed with the family I have, where "you can’t" or “it’s not possible” were never phrases that were heard in our house.

This upbringing and stubbornness has resulted in me completing many things that previously, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing, nor would I think I actually wanted to.

The more experience I gain through living away from home and meeting new people every day from all backgrounds, all cultures, religions I realize more and more how lucky I am to live the life I live. I’m young(ish), fit and able to complete anything I set my mind to, I have no limitations laid on me in any capacity, only the ones I choose to put on myself. I realize that I am lucky, and it is such a privilege to live this way, so my aim is to never take it for granted, never to pass up on an opportunity that many others could only ever dream of.

When I sit down and think “why” I want to complete this challenge, a lot of mixed emotions come to mind. First and foremost I want to complete this crazy race to show that anything is possible. If one is person is positively affected by The Girls Who Dare Team, if one person becomes inspired to push forward and break boundaries then I think we have achieved our goal of making someone dream, dare and do it.

I also want to complete this because I simply think I can. Will it be hard? Of course, and I will probably be eating my words 2 days in, but I will never doubt my ability to adapt and push forward.

I want to embrace every single moment on the boat, the rock bottom lows, and the ultimate highs. When times get tough, I’ll think about why I started this, I'll think about those who aren't offered the same opportunities, and pull another stroke.

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Orlagh Dempsey

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