The man in charge of identifying talent for the UAE national boxing team has plenty to choose from.
Boxing coach Foia sees a lot of potential
ABU DHABI // Constantin Foia, the coach of the national boxing team, is looking forward to the challenges ahead after watching some of his fighters in action on the opening day of the Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan Festival.
The 15th staging of the festival has attracted more than 3,000 athletes competing in 13 different sporting disciplines and the action on the opening night on Wednesday was in the boxing ring, where four bouts were contested.
"Having already spent four months at the training centres around the country, I see some potential, particularly among the younger ones," said Foia, who has the task of preparing boxers for the Pan Arab Games in Qatar, in December.
"I need to create a programme where athletes can train seven days a week instead of the three day or weekend training that has become the norm in the country," the Romanian said.
"The boxers in the UAE spend little time in training because of their work commitments and in the case of the younger ones, attending school.
"On the brighter side, there is a lot of interest and commitment from those who are serious. And more competitions like the Ramadan Festival provide them the incentives to put in more days and hours to prepare themselves."
Boxing is a comparatively new sport in the country with the governing body, the UAE Boxing Federation, established in October 2002.
"Obviously it takes time for a young establishment, particularly when the sport doesn't have a big following," Foia said. "I can see them going on the right path, trying to take the sport to the schools, which would be the best to happen in any sport.
"They have already set up a few training centres and have been working with the clubs. They have also introduced boxing to one school in Al Ain. These are some of the progress made by my predecessors but a lot of work lies ahead to get a few heroes in the sport that would automatically create awareness among the country's youth."
Foia brings in more than 25 years of coaching experience and when he took charge of the national team four months ago it was his first appointment outside Romania.
"It is a new experience for me and a challenging one too," he said. "I am looking at some of the boxers for the first time in this competition but I am aware of some pretty good ones, with whom I am working while taking the sport to the grass roots."
At the festival Ali Fahad Al Hubabi, 15, from Al Ain won a 3-2 points decision over Rashid Al Shehhi, 14, from Shamkha, in the 48kg and under weight division.
Sardoric Kodirov, a Romanian representing Fujairah Club, outclassed Riyadh Fathi Saleh from the Palestinian Territories and Hamad Mohammed Al Zaabi of the Air Force stopped Hamed Ismail Al Tamimi of Abu Dhabi in the second round, both in the 64kg and under.
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