Don't simmer, get sporty in the capital this summer
Venturing outside during summer in the UAE can feel like you've just stepped out of a hot bath, so you can be forgiven for taking a break from physical activity until the weather cools.
Not this summer, however.
The Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) is running the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sports Festival, to help people stay active.
There’s a whole manner of activities to grab the attention of residents - all in the cool surroundings of ADNEC.
You can try your hand at more than 15 sports at a cost of just Dhs20 for kids and Dhs40 for adults.
The ADSC has invited its partner sports clubs to offer coaching sessions and tasters to help entice capital residents into new ways of staying fit and healthy.
“Sometimes starting a new sport can be a little bit intimidating,” admits Fahad Al Shamsi, head of events of ADSC, “so we are bringing in people who enjoy playing their sport and hopefully we have people who will see that and say ‘wow, that looks really cool I want to try that’.”
Obviously with the Euro 2012 championship on TV, football is going to a popular choice this summer. And footy fans will be well catered for at the festival, with the likes of Manchester City School of Football pitching up at the event.
However, Fahad says there is more on offer at the 1,400sqm facility to make sure everyone is spoilt for choice.
Here are some of the options on offer for would-be sporting heroes this summer:
As golf clubs across the UAE drop their green fees to try and entice the hardy hackers onto the course this summer, children can get to grips with the short game at the festival. They may not be able to perfect their 150-yard iron shots but they can pick up a putter and get expert advice. Fahad hopes kids will get excited about the popular pastime.
“It is a mini-golf set up,” explains Fahad, adding that the logistics of indoor golf were a bit challenging.
“We decided this year we are going to go with a small mini putting area from the Al Ain Golf Club.”
Basketball is a fast-growing sport in the UAE. It can be a bit intimidating sometimes to step onto the court but with the professional coaches from the Abu Dhabi Country Club and Zayed Sports City on hand you can learn the basics, from simple layups to nailing your first three-pointer.
You don’t need to be six feet tall either - festival organisers are offering adjustable hoops so folk of all heights can get to grips with the sport.
If it is a harmony of body and mind you are looking for, you can’t go far wrong with an ancient Japanese
martial art. “Jujitsu is a massively popular sport with the young Emiratis,” explains Fahad. Head down to the festival to find out the difference between ‘Atemi waza’ and ‘Furimi’ techniques and what it takes to earn your first belt.
It might not seem a sporty affair but Fahad is adamant that chess deserves its place on the roster of activities you can try this summer. After all, they do say the mind is a powerful muscle.
“Yes, it is a sport that is not much for the physical but more for the mind, concentration and the ability to think strategically,” says Fahad. “Nowadays, kids do not have the patience to do that. Yes, I know that people may not regard chess as a sport as such but it is a sport internationally.”
Tennis is expected to be a top attraction at the event and Fahad says they have a strange and wonderful hybrid game that will also ignite people’s intrigue. “Paddle tennis is hugely popular in Spain,” he says.
“They play with wooden rackets, a little similar to what you use at the beach, and they play on a court that it is surrounded by glass, a little like squash. It is a great sport and very active, the kids have great fun.”
PICK AND MIX
There’s really no excuse for sitting idle. If you don’t fancy any of our highlighted activities you still try yoga, football, boxing, table tennis, running, billiards, rugby, field hockey and others.
THE NEXT OLYMPIANS?
The Abu Dhabi Sports Council is not only interested in getting newbies off the couch and into a club, it also wants to find Emirati sports stars of the future.
And Fahad says the Abu Dhabi Sports Festival is the perfect place to uncover such talent. “We have five Elite Centres in Abu Dhabi where we take the elite young athletes from schools and give them special scholarships,” explains Fahad. “In the next Youth Olympics, we will have, I believe, five or six athletes participating and this programme only started just under four years ago.
“If a club sees someone who is very talented or promising, they might end up in the Elite Centres programme and might even end up at the Olympics.”