Dubai: A former member of the Board of Directors at the UAE Tennis Association (UAE TA) has taken it upon himself to revive the sport starting with the grassroot levels especially in the northern parts of the country.
Khalid Al Ali, a former member on the BoD of the UAE TA hailing from Fujairah, has already started off with a mini tennis training camp that has attracted more than 40 children, including 25 emiratis and kids of determination.
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“If at all our children have been missing anything, it is some sport like tennis. We have everything at our disposal and our chairman Abdul Gafoor Bahroozian has been more than keen to support us along the way. So after doing all our homework to the best, we decided to get this programme under way. I think this is the best thing that has happened for our youngsters and tennis in this part of the UAE,” Al Ali told Gulf News.
“At the moment, we have our coaches guiding the students online mostly via zoom. But the next step will be to have these coaches come and take over the facilities at the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club (FTCC) and ensure the sport grows and produces a few players from this part of the UAE,” he added.
The children attending the training have been conveniently divided into batches and groups based on availability especially in view of the protocols to be followed during the coronavirus pandemic. “Each group gets 45 minutes per day so that they can best utilise their time on court. The emiratis train for free while we charge a minimum fee for the expatriates,” Al Ali said.
The next step, the former official disclosed, will be to revive a series of tournaments and competitions that the Fujairah Club used to organise in the past. “Maybe we will start with a special veterans’ competition for the Arab region and follow this up with a revival of the Zayed Cup and the two ITF Juniors events,” Al Ali said.
“The courts at the club have been resurfaced and the lighting too has been upgraded. I think we can even have a tournament for players in the GCC region,” he added.
“We have been in contact with key personnel who will come and take over the reins at the club and oversee the various programmes that we have already begun in a small way at the moment. If at all there is a huge need in tennis, it will be players who can be good enough to represent the UAE in the future. I believe we can assist in this sector,” Al Ali said.