The Ashfaq brothers during an Q&A session at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival moderated by Omar Al Obaidi on Saturday. Image Credit: Courtesy: SCRF

Sharjah: The last day of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) featured teen brothers Ammar Ashfaq Ahmad and Sinan Ashfaq Ahmad, two young black belts in Taekwondo in the UAE who have represented both the UAE and their home country Pakistan at prestigious international championships.

The siblings were on the SCRF Creative Stage on Saturday — a platform on which young achievers from diverse fields shared numerous inspirational stories with peers through the 11-day festival.

The brothers agreed that Taekwondo has not only taught them self-defence, but has given them the kind of discipline that they will benefit for the rest of their lives.

In a Q&A session moderated by Omar Al Obaidi, Ammar, 15, said his father introduced him to the sport when he was only seven years old. Younger sibling Sinan, 12, went one up by starting when he was just six.

Sinan said: “We chose Taekwondo because we didn’t know any self-defence techniques. As soon as we started, we saw ourselves gaining these qualities from the sport.”

Ammar said: “I used to be a very shy kid and was bullied a lot in school; sometimes even beaten up. My father wanted me to learn taekwondo so I would know how to defend myself. This is especially significant as the UAE was observing the anti-bullying week, last week, which is a great step to counter this kind of negative behaviour in schools and universities that can have a lifelong impact on victims of bullying.”

Talking about how each setback fuelled them to perform better, Ammar said: “Our first championship experience was in Dubai, where we were knocked out. This pushed us to train harder and we won gold after gold in the club championships that followed, organised in different emirates of the UAE.”

Sinan won his first international gold medal a week before he represented his home country at the First WTF President’s Cup in Tashkent in August 2017. He went on to bag the first ever bronze medal for Pakistan in Tashkent.

Ammar, who became the youngest Pakistani in the UAE to get a Black Belt in Taekwondo in 2015 at the age of 12, is a part of the Pakistan national taekwondo team. His biggest achievement came when he was selected in the Pakistan national team to participate in two mega events: Youth Taekwondo World Cup and the Youth Olympics Qualifying Tournament held in Hemmamet, Tunisia in April.

He fought for his country in the President Taekwondo Cup in Tashkent in August 2017 and the Paris Open Taekwondo Championship in November last year. Ammar became Pakistan’s national champion in December 2017 by winning gold medal at the Pakistan-Korea National Championship. He also won silver medal for Sharjah Youth Club at the UAE-Korea National Taekwondo Cup last year.