More than 400 jiu-jitsu juniors will be in action Thursday as men and women square off this weekend in Abu Dhabi, writes Ahmed Rizvi.
ABU DHABI // The Arabian Gulf Cup marks the beginning of the new UAE jiu-jitsu season.
The three-day event, for juniors, men and women, has drawn more than 700 entries with competition starting Thursday and continuing until Saturday at the UAE Wrestling, Judo and Kick Boxing Association headquarters at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club premises.
The opening day’s competition, for junior boys and girls under 17, will see more than 400 youngsters vying for honours in several weight divisions and competitive categories: from white, yellow, orange, green and blue belts.
The No Gi championship on Friday has received 153 entries from 33 countries, and 164 for the championship proper, on Saturday’s final day.
Saturday will feature championships for both men and women, open and masters.
According to Mohammed Salem, the vice president of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, there has been emphasis on the country’s youth by providing them with more opportunities to compete.
“We had good success from the Emirati participation in the Junior World Cup in Abu Dhabi last year and we believe here is the way forward for us,” Salem said.
“They have been training the whole of summer and have been eagerly waiting for this moment. The competition for the juniors will now be a regular feature in the calendar of our events.”
The schools programme is an initiative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Several national schools have added the sport as part of their curriculum and the federation have also established six training centres around the country for youth to engage in the sport.
“The UAE have enjoyed remarkable success on the international stage and we believe an early introduction into competition for the juniors will pave the way for more success at all levels,” Salem said.
The UAEJJ has a busy schedule drawn up for the 2013/2014 season.
The Arabian Gulf Cup will be followed by next month’s Asian Cup, then the Emirates Super Cup, Gulf Cup Open, Abu Dhabi Cup, World Jiu-Jitsu Cup for Juniors, the World Professional Championship and the Abu Dhabi Elite Championship.