Dr Amit Kakkar with Christopher Swaminathan, Bilal Hafeez and Brendyn Monsorate during a training session at CMC Global Training Office in Deira ahead of the Special Olympics. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai/Abu Dhabi: Three people of determination in the UAE, known as “The BBC” because of their first names and connection with media, have been employed to cover the upcoming Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Bilal Hafeez, Brendyn Monsorate and Christopher Swaminathan have been hired by the games’ Local Organising Committee to work in the World Games Unified Press Office.

The trio, who have been developing their skills at Al Noor Training Centre in Dubai under the guidance of Dubai-based media expert Amit Kakkar, will source and write stories about the people of determination participating in the games.

Image Credit: Arshad Ali / Gulf News

Their stories with bylines will be sent to news outlets internationally, bringing recognition to their work.

Dream come true

Ahead of their work for the games, which are scheduled for March 14 to 21, The BBC told Gulf News their selection as correspondents is a dream come true. As one of their first joint assignments, they had recently interviewed Sir Tim Clark, president of Dubai-based airline Emirates.

Hafeez, 34, has Cerebral Palsy and works as a graphic designer. He is currently writing an autobiography.

Hafeez, who is from Pakistan, said: “After almost one year of media training, I feel totally transformed as a professional who is eager to do reporting for media houses in the UAE. I could never imagine that one day I would be meeting and interviewing people of determination from around the world at an event like the Special Olympics World Games. This recognition is an amazing feeling for me and cannot wait to report on this mega event.”

Monsorate, 19, who has Down syndrome, is keen to work in the entertainment industry and is currently undertaking training in the Al Noor Work Placement Unit.

Monsorate, an Indian national, said he has always been fond of celebrities and never thought he would one day interview famous people. “I am eagerly waiting to be a part of the games, where I will be working as a special correspondent. I am very excited and determined to show the world that everything is possible.”

Swaminathan, 25, who also has Down syndrome, is interested in technology and electronics.

The Sri Lankan expat is currently doing an internship at the assistive technology department of Al Noor. He said following the training, “I feel equipped with the media knowledge and skills and I’m carrying the highest confidence in my life”.

Swaminathan added: “The games will give me the kind of exposure I have been looking for and the experience of reporting for the games, which will be one of the best moments of my life.”

The UAE will welcome more than 7,500 athletes from over 190 nations for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. They will compete in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in what will be the first World Games to be held in the Middle East.

‘Exceptionally hardworking’

Kakkar, 44, described the trio as “exceptionally hardworking”. Kakkar, who is from India, said they went through media training from January to August 2018, followed by practice sessions in November and December 2018. He added that for almost a year the trio received training every Friday at CMC Global Training in Dubai from 10am to 1pm.

“This is encouraging for all of us at Al Noor Training Centre and the parents of these students who contributed with their time every weekend at my training centre. For me, I am only following the voice of my heart from day one, as far as this training is concerned for these students. There are zero commercial interests involved in this training and God Almighty is guiding me on this path.”

Isphana Al Khateeb, director of Al Noor Training Centre, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for our students. It is initiatives such as this, that open doors for our students and tap their abilities, equipping them with the expertise to productively take their place in the community.”

Emirates Post encourages people to send messages of support to Special Olympics UAE athletes

To celebrate the upcoming Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Emirates Post is encouraging people to send messages of support to the participating Special Olympics UAE athletes. Post boxes and postcards, which have been designed by students and Abdullah Lutfy, a Special Olympics UAE athlete, will be placed at various locations across the UAE, where members of the public can write personalised messages. These will then be delivered by Emirates Post to the UAE National team.

The activation was located at Dubai Festival City on Sunday and will be at venues hosting Special Olympics events, including Zayed Sports City and Hamdan Sports Complex for the duration of the games.

Four of the five chosen postcard designs feature several winners of a unified art competition that took place last year across Dubai and Abu Dhabi schools. The fifth design features a drawing by the artists and Special Olympics UAE athlete Abdullah Lutfy.

Obaid Mohammad Al Qatami, Acting Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates Post Group, said: “We are incredibly excited about the upcoming Special Olympics World Games, which promote values of acceptance and inclusion, and it is extremely fitting that they are being hosted in the UAE during the Year of Tolerance. As Abu Dhabi and Dubai prepare to host the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event, we wanted to build anticipation and give members of the public the opportunity to engage with the Special Olympics National Team.”

Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, said: “This initiative will help to provide motivation for the athletes as they prepare to compete in the biggest Special Olympics World Games in the history of the event. We appreciate Emirates Posts’ commitment to Special Olympics and for furthering the ideals of inclusion.”