Extra-curricular sports activities are back on in Abu Dhabi after authorities cancelled them in the wake of the pandemic 18 months ago. And that includes all sports in and out of schools, meaning the capital’s children can get back to two of the pursuits that make humans healthiest: moving and playing.
A slam dunk
“Very often, people forget how important physical activity is, but during this pandemic the importance of PE was felt around the world,” says Deniza Ibrahimi, a PE teacher at GEMS American Academy. “Being physically active has positive effects on both our body and mind, especially in situations like this. Therefore, bringing back PE is one of the best things ADEK could do for our students.”
Deniza, a former baller who played in Germany’s first division basketball league, is also an advocate for sports beyond the classroom.
“We want our students to be balanced at all times so that they can become risk-takers,” she says. “Extra curricular activities are as crucial as core subjects because student athletes learn how to manage themselves, take responsibility and deal with difficult situations.”
And that’s why she spends so much of her free time coaching basketball at Prime Sports, which offers a wide variety of sports. Its basketball academy caters to boys and girls between the ages of four and 17.
“What I like about Prime is that children are conditioned to follow instructions, but they are still given the opportunity to have a voice and choice in how they learn new skills,” says Deniza. “I loved being part of such a diverse group of children from different backgrounds coming together and celebrating sports. My goal is to keep sharing my passion. Basketball is more than just a sport; it is diversity, acceptance, tolerance and so much more.”
As a parent of two young children, Seth Amoafo, founder of ProActive Soccer School (PASS), believes wholeheartedly in the value of sports for all. It was one of the reasons he and his wife sent their children back to England during the last academic year. They needed to have ample opportunities to be active whenever possible, Seth thought.
“As well as the obvious physical benefits of fitness — stronger bones and immune and nervous systems — the social benefits of sport are very important,” says Seth. “Learning how to win and lose, making friends, leadership opportunities, organizational skills are all key attributes that our children missed out on by not being able to participate in sports like they previously were. It is certainly challenging to balance the threat of Covid with the need for sport and physical activity; I don’t envy our leaders, but I hope a happy medium can be found this year.”
PASS is ready to welcome both competitive and recreational players back out on the pitch. The recreational program is designed to teach players football fundamentals as they grow. Starting with FUNdamentals (2-year-olds) and ranging up to the Koora Stars (10-12-year-olds), each player will be developed and challenged appropriately, with the intention to progress players to the next age group as they develop or even better, PASS competitive teams.
Other sports activities
JSA Gymnastics (formerly Abu Dhabi Gymnastics Club) is welcoming students back to the mat for the fall term. With 10 coaches and over 700 students, this is one of the most sought-after gymnastics programs in the capital.
The Rise Center for Dance and Taekwondo offers a variety of dance classes including ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, tap and even preschool dance. Sessions are open to children from two years up and parents can get in on the action too with a full range of adult classes.
The Emirates American Football League gives children between the ages of eight and 18 the opportunity to learn and play American football right here in the UAE. The league gives athletes an authentic experience in a fun, safe, structured environment.
Abu Dhabi Harlequins are proud to have a strong juniors section with squads from under four all the way up to 19. They also offer a number of girls-only squads, including under 12s, under 15s and under 18s. Kinds can learn and play rugby twice a week at Zayed Sports City.
Finally, the Bodyline Gym located at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium offers a youth boxing class for children aged 12 to 15.