An action-packed AFOC starts today with the 15th staging of the event to see record 43 boxers in different categories slugging it out.
Boxing to ring off Armed Forces Officers Club Ramadan festivities
ABU DHABI // Boxing takes centre stage in tonight's opening day of the Armed Forces Officers Club (AFOC) Ramadan Festival, which has drawn more than 3,000 athletes competing in 13 different sporting disciplines.
The 15th staging of the AFOC festival consists of seven-a-side football, ice hockey, judo, wrestling, karate, jiu-jitsu, fencing, bowling, shooting, chess and PlayStation.
Boxing tonight will give the three-week long festival an action-packed start with bouts scheduled from 9.30pm.
This year's competition has drawn the highest number of entries, 43 in 10 different weight categories, from eight clubs around the country, including the Army and Air Force.
"Boxing is a new sport with the UAE Federation established only 10 years ago, but as the numbers indicate, it is growing," said Abdulkareem Hajtaeb, the technical manager at the UAE Boxing Federation.
"It is very encouraging to see a record entry for this year's competition. It is only the third time we have boxing included in the festival and it certainly seems to have generated great interest from the Emirati youth.
"Boxing is an Olympic medal prospect sport and the inclusion of it in the festival is a huge boost to the country's youth. We conduct only three competitions every year and this competition at the festival is very special."
The AFOC festival last year handed out Dh9 million in cash prizes. This year it is expected to be at least the same. "We have always been very generous with the prize monies in the previous years and not much is going to change," said Lieut Col Musabeh Hamad Al Kaabi, the AFOC's deputy director of recreation.
"The response, as in every year, has been good. In the men's football we have restricted the teams to 64."
With Dh550,935 to the winners and Dh367,000 to the runners-up of the men's football competition, many teams, as in previous years, are expected to sign up professional players, both foreigners and local.
The spotlight also falls on the UAE women's national team who have just returned from a training camp in the United States.
The winners of the women's title will receive Dh367,000 and the competition has drawn teams from Ukraine and Egypt.
"Football, both for men and women, is the most popular," added Al Kaabi. "For this reason, the football finals will be the grand finale of the festival.
"Overall, we expect top-class fare because of the attractive prize money. There are also valuable prizes, including three cars, for the spectators to win from the daily raffles from the free entry coupons.
"So those who come to watch their favourite sports, not only get to watch some exciting competition, but can win valuable prizes. We have also created a beautiful atmosphere for the whole family to come and enjoy the festival."
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