Abdul Ghafoor Behroozian, Chairman of the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club, speaks with a competitor at the Fujairah International Women Tournament
Abdul Ghafoor Behroozian, Chairman of the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club, speaks with a competitor at the Fujairah International Women Tournament Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: The decision to host the first-ever Fujairah International Women Tournament was taken in distant Morocco a month back. Abdul Ghafoor Behroozian, Chairman of the Fujairah Tennis and Country Club (FTCC) was in the North African region on a business trip sometime in December, when he got a call from Khalid Al Ali [Tournament Director] informing him that Fujairah could achieve its dream of hosting an ITF Women’s Tennis Tour.

“My only question to Khalid was: ‘We have just 14 days to put this whole event together. Is that enough time for you to organise a tournament at this level where the last thing I would want is the event that would fail from the management point of view,” Behroozian told Gulf News.

“So far, I must I say I have been pleasantly surprised that this tournament has lived up to expectations and it is in fact been so different from what we have done in the past. But that said, we are always open to constructive suggestions that can help us become better.”

A part of the 2021 ITF Women’s Tennis Tour, the Fujairah International Women Tournament will award Saturday’s champion 50 ranking points. “While these ranking points can make a difference to these players, this event will open doors for us to host tournaments here in the future,” Behroozian said. “We are now sitting and making plans with people concerned to stage more ITF tournaments here later this season. All of these will be on the international calendar. We are looking for at least one or two such tournaments by the end of this season.”

Since last year, the FTCC has embarked on a drive to ramp up the stakes at the club with particular emphasis on tennis. Since then, more than 60 kids have been training at the facility and it is this bunch of youngsters that the club has in mind for the future.

“We have big plans for the success of these children. We will get a full-time nutritionist and a mental coach so that these children have access to everything and make a success of the path they have chosen. We want them to be prepared for the future and we will give these kids every chance to be champions,” he said. “And if they don’t, then it’s either that the kids don’t have it in them or they or their parents are not doing the right things. We will merely provide the opportunities, right from their diet to their overall development as players. I am confident things will change here completely.”

The FTCC Chairman was eternally grateful to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai for his generous gesture of the club that in fact bears his name.

“We are aware that the only sport that gets all the attention and the money is football. All individual sports like tennis have been semi-neglected even though we can play a sport like tennis even if one is 80 years old. It is a sport that develops not just the physical, but also the mental aspect of a person,” Behroozian said.

“Since this club was established [in 2007], tennis has been non-existent here. But, since we have started this drive to bring the children on court here, we have seen how some of them are so unbelievably talented. Shaikh Mohammad has a philosophy of a ‘sound mind in a sound body’ and we can carry forward his dream at least by a small percentage.

“I think we have achieved a great deal in a short time and tennis will become a big sport in Fujairah. This tournament and the ones to follow in the future will help to put the Fujairah name more on the world stage. We are eternally grateful to our leaders and for all the personal attention they give us. They have given me a free hand to do what we need to succeed with the club. If we fail, then we are not good enough. I promise you, we will not fail.”