x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Keep fit with stars this Ramadan at Abu Dhabi SportFest

Star athletes will be hosting a series of sports clinics and seminars at the SportFest this Ramadan.

NBA Champion Robert "Big Shot Rob" Horry will be one of the many sports stars conducting a series of clinics and seminars with athletes atdu Forum's SportFest this Ramadan. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
NBA Champion Robert "Big Shot Rob" Horry will be one of the many sports stars conducting a series of clinics and seminars with athletes atdu Forum's SportFest this Ramadan. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

ABU DHABI // Residents in the capital will be able to keep fit with the stars this Ramadan – in air-conditioned comfort.

SportFest at the du Forum on Yas Island will host a series of sports clinics and seminars with athletes including the former tennis star Tim Henman, seven-times NBA Champion Robert “Big Shot Rob” Horry and the former Manchester United and England striker Andrew Cole, a columnist with The National.

The line-up is completed by local sportsmen such as 18-times UAE badminton champion and former Iranian national team captain Afshin Bozorgzadeh, and the UAE’s world jiu-jitsu brown belt champions Faisal Al Ketbi and Mohammed Al Qubaisi.

Noor Kamali, an Emirati government worker in Abu Dhabi, is hoping to get down to the du Forum when she can.

“I believe there has really been an increase in awareness among society to keep fit and healthy,” she said. “It’s usually nice to play sports outside but considering the extreme heat, they made the right decision to host it indoors.”

Emirati jiu-jitsu pros Al Ketbi and Al Qubaisi will be first on the line-up, demonstrating how to perform their signature marital arts moves such as the double-leg takedown. Their clinic for intermediates, which runs from July 10 to 12 from 9pm to 11pm, is open to over-12s only.

At Racket Week, which runs from July 13 to 15, Henman will give tennis masterclasses to over-14s. The sessions are from 8pm to 11pm.

Badminton fans can take to the court with Bozorgzadeh during the third week from July 18 to 20. There will be singles competitions for men and woman every night from 8pm to 11pm, as well as mixed doubles. Entry is open to over-12s.

Tickets to all of these events will cost Dh50 per player. Those who want to play basketball or football with Horry or Cole will need to pay Dh400 per team.

Horry will host the men-only basketball nights from July 24 to 27 between 8pm and midnight. Teams of at least 10 must be made up of players older than 14, the organisers said.

A men-only five-a-side football tournament will be hosted by Cole from July 31 to August 3. The tournament will run from 9pm to 1am, and is only open to over 16s.

The celebrity hosts will also be putting in a little one-on-one coaching. “With coaching and competitions over the first two days, the top individuals or teams from each sport will win a personal coaching session with some of the biggest names in sport,” said Sultan Al Muhairi, manager of SummerFest Abu Dhabi.

There will be ladies-only nights, too. On July 16, the forum will host volleyball for women, as well as basketball on July 23 and football on July 30. All the ladies’ nights will also feature yoga classes, badminton and tennis.

“It’s very encouraging they’re promoting sports during the summer,” said Dr Mariam Al Saeed. “As an endocrinologist, the first thing I say to my patients is to stay active as it helps control diabetics’ sugar levels. Once they exercise, they get an immediate effect.

“Activity is also encouraged to maintain muscle mass and prevent diseases. Sport helps improve mental functions and, if they adjust their lifestyle, diet is also helped. You are far less likely to have bad eating habits if you are active.”

Ms Kamali praised efforts such as SummerFest and other activities designed to keep the UAE moving during Ramadan. “Our government has been supporting not only large-scale sports events but also raising other sports such has horse riding and other sports related to our culture,” she said.

To enrol for a chance to play with the pros at SportFest, visit bit.ly/17xplba.