x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emirati teenager has big plans for future in professional jiu-jitsu

Spreading development programme to schoolchildren bearing fruit for UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation

Alyazya Khalfan Al Shiary, 14, displays her skills during a demonstration of jiu-jitsu. She is confident of winning a gold medal in the orange belt 50.5-kilogramme division for girls in the Abu Dhabi World Junior Championship. Shahul Hameed / Al Ittihad
Alyazya Khalfan Al Shiary, 14, displays her skills during a demonstration of jiu-jitsu. She is confident of winning a gold medal in the orange belt 50.5-kilogramme division for girls in the Abu Dhabi World Junior Championship. Shahul Hameed / Al Ittihad

ABU DHABI // Alyazya Khalfan Al Shiary has ambitions to pursue a full-time career in jiu-jitsu. She wants to be famous as the first Emirati professional in the sport.

Al Shiary, 14, had previously tried ballet and gymnastics, and attended a few judo classes, before switching to jiu-jitsu after the martial art was introduced in her school as part of the development programme of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

“I have been in jiu-jitsu for four years and I liked the sport from the time I first saw it being demonstrated at school,” she said.

“Jiu-jitsu provides a chance to come back and win even when you are grounded. In judo, once you are down, it’s all over.

“When I first started in jiu-jitsu, it was just for fun. Then I started to participate in the schools competition and had some success. It encouraged me to train harder and excel at the school level. I have won 16 medals so far, most of them are bronze and silver, but now I am serious and spend more time and train harder, so nothing less than gold would satisfy me.”

Al Shiary said the junior competition at the Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, to be held at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sports City next week, will be a “major step forward”.

She added: “I won a bronze last year and this year I am confident of a gold.”

Al Shiary credited the martial art for developing her personality.

“I used to get angry and react aggressively to trivial matters, but now I have a good laugh at them,” she said.

“I want to create a new culture among the Emirati girls. I want to encourage them to excel in sports. There are a few female Emiratis in sports already, but they have to work as well as compete in sports. I want to work in my chosen sport full-time.”

Al Shiary has the support of her parents and knows that without them it would be hard to pursue her goals. Her mother, Aisha, said the discipline has changed her daughter’s lifestyle for the better.

“Sports in general provide an active and healthy lifestyle, and my daughter has taken a liking to jiu-jitsu and we don’t have a problem in that,” she said.

Roberta Ferreira, her Brazilian coach at school, has played a key role in convincing her parents of Al Shiary’s jiu-jitsu skills.

“Every girl who wants to get to the competition level has to show discipline and excel in their academics in order to train or participate in competitions,” Ferreira said.

For Al Shiary and her teammates, Ferreira is a mother figure, aside from being their coach.

“She has taught us discipline because without it we are not allowed to train or compete,” Al Shiary said. “This is the pledge we have given our teacher and this is the promise she has passed on to the parents.”

apassela@thenational.ae

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