get, set, go: The UAE cyclists at the starting point during the Arab Cycling Championships

SHARJAH: Far away from the hustle and bustle of Sharjah city, one can’t miss the sight of a few Emirati girls cycling around the serene roads very close to the Sharjah airport.

They are there almost all the days in a week, though the attendance keeps varying. They have a task cut out and a mission to accomplish.

With strong efforts being taken to form the UAE women’s cycling team, this is just the first step in getting things up and kicking.

Nasreen Ali Bin Darwish, Head of Ladies Committee and Committee Marketing of the Emirates Cycling Federation, knows there’s no easy route to success. The first big challenge they face is convincing the girls and their parents to take up the sport which is not a familiar one among the Emiratis.

“We know it’s not an easy task,” Nasreen told XPRESS. “Convincing the parents and the girls itself is a big challenge, mainly because they are not comfortable wearing the suit used by the riders. But we are optimistic of getting the numbers and picking the best from them,” she added.

For now, there are around 45 girls who are training and the Federation has roped in a coach from Egypt.

“We are approaching several clubs and schools and targeting girls in the age group of 14 to 24. We have a good number at the moment. But we are targeting around 400 girls in the near future. It’s difficult but we are confident,” Nasreen said.

With the start having already been made, the efforts seem to be paying off. The UAE girls did well in the recently concluded Arab Cycling Championship which was held in the UAE recently.

“Personally, we did not expect any result. But the girls surprised us by coming up with some good results,” she said.

The Emirates Cycling Federation is also planning to start cycling academies in the near future that could generate more numbers. “We are planning to start academies in the next three months in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This will provide the girls more opportunity to train closer to where they stay.

“We are thankful to Trek UAE who are the official sponsors of the UAE women’s cycling team. It involves huge money to have professional training facilities for the girls. So we will look for more sponsors in the future,” she said.

Currently the girls are training for an event to be held in Lebanon in less than a month before they call off practice for the summer.

“They will be heading to Lebanon for an event. Their performance there will give us an idea of where they stand. We want to have a strong UAE team in the future and hope we can build one,” she said.