Abu Dhabi: Tamer Gaafar was inspired by a tree in the middle of the desert that needed nourishment to grow. That's when he changed his team's name from 'United Rollers' to 'Urban Roots'.
He described the tree as standing out in the middle of a deserted construction area between the Springs and the Emirates Mall.
"As the tree grows it needs nourishment and with support and help, the tree stands isolated but strong. The seeds symbolise the future generation, youth. Each branch of the tree represents the different activities youngsters in [Urban Roots] URS are involved in.
"Each branch has potential to grow, just as long as the foundation remains strong. Similar to URS, which stands for unity, respect and solidarity," said the in-line skater.
Gaafar, 25, and a few team members' founded URS six months ago.
Currently URS consists of in-line skaters, skateboarders, BMX riders (an activity that involves tricks using a bicycle on ramps), basketball players, graffiti artists, rappers, break dancers, photographers, videographers and many more activities. The age of team members ranges from 12 to 20 years.
As part of URS's contribution to shows and competitions across the UAE, Gaafar was asked to organise activities associated with the Red Bull show.
One of the competitions involved the 'Game of Skate' where he offered Dh500 to the first prize skate boarding winner from his own savings, an initiative that he explained has nothing to do with money.
He attracted competitors through Facebook and word-of-mouth, which he claims had an effective response.
Gaafar didn't find it fair not to give away prizes for second and third ranks, and decided to add humour to the prize giving. Second place winner received a Big Mac Tasty and third prize a Double Cheese Burger from McDonald's.
URS T-shirts were also distributed to volunteers.
Seven dancers from Oman and five from Dubai took part in a break dancing show and two graffiti artists filled up a 2x10 metre canvas plywood during the performance.
"The idea is not prize money, it's all about encouraging youth to take part in the event or start considering taking up an activity and joining us. I'd love to see young people take up a sport instead of wasting their health, money and energy on an unhealthy lifestyle.
"The clubbing scene is so big now. Children are becoming more shallow and materialistic. They think that clubbing is a sign of maturity. We want to show children that growing up is about having fun. You're allowed to be a child but keep fit and be pro-active, involve yourself in sports, you don't need to smoke or drink to have fun. You can be creative through photography and film, and keep fit through numerous sports. I want to encourage youngsters in the UAE to be themselves and not adopt unhealthy habits just because they think it's cool.
"We can get our happiness from putting our own flavour to things in a positive way. You don't have to follow what others consider as fashion, you can create your own fashion and stick to your own healthy trends that can also be considered cool," he said.
Gaafar started fitness skating when he was only 12 years old in the UK. At 14, Gaafar and his family moved to Germany where he took up ice-skating and ice hockey. At 15 till he was 18, Gaafar took up extreme skating, which involves skating, flips and grinding. At that stage he had an accident but that did not stop him from moving on.
Even though half his dream of not competing internationally was not fulfilled, at 17, Gaafar went back to the UK to continue his studies in the London College of Music and Media. Shortly after that, his itch to go back to skating resulted in enrolling for a skate instructor certification. He decided to teach.
"The certification is a five-day course, which involves a written test and a practical assessment on your skating techniques and teaching skills. You have to teach a lesson, communicate with a class and get tested on how to use the elements of teaching in-line skating. I scored 98 per cent in the exam," he said.
Gaafar has been a huge inspiration for many youths across the UAE. His team calls him 'Big T' since he's become an elder brother and idol for many.
He continues to work hard and take part in shows and competitions such as the Go Skate Boarding Day, a yearly international day on June 21.
"I could have stayed in the UK but I chose the UAE because of how beautiful it is. Youths have to understand how fortunate they are to be surrounded by such serenity and beauty in comparison to people in need in the outside world. ... My aim is to spread awareness and if possible raise money and give it to a special needs centre. My real dream is to have a big sports area."
People interested in contacting Tamer Gaafar may fo so on: firstname.lastname@example.org and 055-5417-000. A website is under construction at www.ursmag.com.