x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix volunteers given lessons in marshalling new troops

Programme has Emirati race marshals training their compatriots to grow participation in the motorsport.

Mohamed Al Shateri is one of several Emiratis who have dedicated time to volunteer as marshals for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Mohamed Al Shateri is one of several Emiratis who have dedicated time to volunteer as marshals for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

When 24 pristine Formula One cars roar down to turn one at Yas Marina Circuit in November, Mohammed Al Shateri will be keeping his eye on the first corner, watching for accidents.

He is one of several Emiratis who have dedicated time to volunteer as marshals for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which takes place on November 4.

It will be Mr Al Shateri's fourth grand prix in the role but this year he will also be training the next generation of Emirati marshals, in line with a goal set by the Automobile Touring Club UAE to deepen the pool of local talent.

At the capital's first grand prix, in 2008, there were just a handful of Emiratis and residents acting as marshals. More have since joined, exceeding the touring club's hopes.

"In 2009 we launched a five-year plan to establish a permanent pool of UAE-based motorsport marshals to service the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the growing overall needs of motorsport in the Emirates," said Mohammed ben Sulayem, the club's president.

"We achieved that target two years ahead of schedule, but we want to build on this platform and ensure that Emiratis play a growing role in the future of motorsport in the UAE."

To continue this growth, the touring club held a workshop this week enabling Emiratis to train their compatriots to international standards.

The club is one of four national organisations that can train marshals on behalf of the Federation International Automobile, the world governing motorsports body.

"It was basically four stages," said Mr Al Shateri, 23.

Participants were shown how to analyse what was needed in training.

"Then you go through a plan, then the adoption of it, and finally it's evaluation and feedback," he said.

"We got many skills on how to enhance the training such as the speed, the body language and how to analyse those we were training."

Yousef Al Jaberi, 23, a mechanical engineer from Abu Dhabi who was a marshal at the last grand prix, was picking up tips on how to train future marshals.

"They showed us how to be a trainer with good communications and how to provide them with the right way in doing things," Mr Al Jaberi said.

"It was a good experience and we learnt a lot from this course. Not everyone can be a trainer and know how to train people in the right way.

"When you have this information and these abilities it will be easier to train new members and to get them to accept the right way at the very start."

Tuaiba Al Darmaki, who also attended the workshop, said it was beneficial because lessons or phrases could become lost in translation.

"In the future, we need to train other trainers so we need to know what's going on in the sessions," Ms Al Darmaki said.

She added that certain issues could be raised later in private or at the end of the session by those who were not confident in their command of English.

"This year we had lots of new volunteers," Ms Al Darmaki said. "Many people were interested and some of my friends' English is not the best, and there were even some times I didn't understand.

"We knew it was a problem and knew a bit better, and we can translate and help train other members to give the training to the new members."

Mr ben Sulayem said a third of officials and volunteers who took part in the training were Emirati.

"Turning them into competent trainers, not just competent motorsport officials, will help us to attract more UAE nationals into the sport," he said.

eharnan@thenational.ae