The capital's inaugural junior water sports summer camp was launched this week - hosted by the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) - with the aim of inspiring a generation of sportsmen and women on to the water. Up to 200 children will take up the challenge and try their hand at sailing, kayaking, wakeboarding and land yachting - with expert tuition by the Marine Club's team of coaches. These children, aged between 10 and 16, will hit the waves at the marina.
Morning and afternoon coaching sessions began last Sunday, and will run daily until June 28. The junior water sports camp is part of a new Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) initiative, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Education Council that aims to encourage more youngsters into sports. A junior ice hockey camp is already underway at the capital's Zayed Sports City ice rink, with scouts from the UAE ice hockey team on the look out for the next generation of Emirati ice hockey players.
Mohammed Abdalla, an assistant race manger at ADIMSC and organiser of the camps, hopes they will not only provide youngsters with the opportunity to get active this summer, but will also encourage them to take up one of the water sports on offer. "The majority of the children know nothing about [water sports], that is why the summer camps are such a good starting point," Abdalla said. "They can try the sport and see if they like it, then if they are good they can carry on and be part of the club.
"We hope the summer camps will inspire them to push themselves. [Water sports] are not always easy to get into, it can take time to learn, but everyone learns at different rates and will reach a different level. I hope to find some talented youngsters, but it is great to have all levels too. "We keep encouraging them and telling them 'do whatever you can, do your best and maybe you can join us in the future'."
These children do not need to look too far from home for inspiration, with F1 Powerboat World Championship contenders Thani al Qamzi (who currently tops the 2009 World Championship leader board) and teammate, Ahmed al Hameli based at the Marine Sports Club. While it is too early to tell whether they have any budding al Qamzis or al Hamelis in their midst, Abdalla said, he was hopeful the camp would help uncover at least one or two talented youngsters.
"It is still the first week, so it is too early to know if they are any good yet," said Abdalla, "Maybe after two weeks we can see how they are doing and see whether any of the kids have potential. "We hope the children will enjoy all the sports. We would be very happy if any of them were keen to carry on with the sailing or kayaking, or would be interested in powerboating - we have two seater powerboats, so they can start in a smaller boat," Abdalla added.
"First thing is to keep the kids active, second, if we have good students with talent we will take them on and see what they can do in the future." By providing a series of summer camps, the ADSC-led initiative also hopes to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for the capital's youngsters. "It is important for children to keep active and healthy - especially now that school has finished," Abdalla said. "The camps are a great opportunity for kids to be active.
"Our summers are very hot, that is why it is great to get the kids in the water. Abu Dhabi is surrounded by water, so it's the perfect place to learn." Registration is still open for the junior water sports summer camp. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com