Going Out: The brand new Al Ain Cricket Club is bowling them over

Denzil Pinto 17/01/2017
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Get in the net: A range of facilities are on offer for budding cricketers.

Their first term proved to be a huge success with more than 30 people signing up following AACC’s launch in October 2016. And with the new programme running until May, there are plenty of chances to learn from Level Three coach and UAE assistant Shahzada Saleem and his team.

“The opportunity of playing cricket in Al Ain was very difficult before Al Ain Cricket Club was launched,” said Afzal Pasha, cricket operations manager. “Now we have a facility here at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club which is part of the ECB’s vision in having some kind of cricket programme in Al Ain.

“Since we opened in October, the number of people signing up have been very encouraging and although our second term has already started, there’s still time to register and receive top-quality coaching in a fantastic facility.”

Depending on the category, classes, which vary between one-and-a-half hour and two hours, run from Tuesday to Saturdays.

As well as the basics – fielding, bowling and batting, cricketers will also be taught the basic laws, umpiring signals and understand the importance of fitness.

Expert guidance from the likes of UAE assistant Shahzada Saleem will be dished out.

Expert guidance from the likes of UAE assistant Shahzada Saleem will be dished out.

“It’s a lot more than cricket itself,” said Pasha. “All the programmes are fun and productive as for some of the younger ones, they will get to understand what it takes to be a cricketer. It will not just be all training, there will be opportunities to play games also.”

And as part of their drive in attracting Emiratis to the sport, Pasha has revealed there are plans in place to offer free coaching.

How to get invovled

  • What: Cricket coaching programmes
  • Where: Al Ain Cricket Club, Al Ain Equestrian Golf, and Shooting Club
  • When: On-going until May
  • Contact: 03 7026469 or email [email protected]

“We will have free coaching for the local players and provide clothing, equipment and separate coaching for them,” he said.

“We want to play our part in helping the country produce a number of Emirati cricketers in the UAE and plan to start the programme soon.

“People should join as all the courses are delivered to the highest standard and use all the latest skills, drills and equipment currently used by professional cricketers.”

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Going Out: Discover the region's natural beauty

Jay Asser 15/01/2017
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The race takes in some stunning backdrops.

The 25th edition of the event will take place from February 3-4 and is set to feature new routes between Dibba on the Omani coastline into the Hajar mountains.

Held since 1993, one of the longest running events in the region will offer solo distances of 30km, 50km and 72km, as well as the original 72km team relay and 50km family relay race.

The solo races and family relay race will be held on Friday, February 3, while the team relay takes place the following day.

In the 30km, the course has been altered so participants avoid the stretches of asphalt from the coast, instead going through the Zighy Bay turnoff and into the narrowing Wadi up to an elevation of approximately 500m.

If you’re a roadrunner or take part in half marathons, the 30km distance will suit you best and offer a challenge on a different terrain.

The course for the 50km will follow the 30km route, but the extended distance will see competitors ascend steep zigzag bends through cliff and the Musandam peninsular mountains. Marathon runners will be familiar with the distance.

Throughout all the distances, the race will have numerous checkpoints to provide support for runners.

Neil Young, race director, said: “We continue to see increasing interest in the ultimate challenge of the 72km solo.

How to get involved

  • What: Salomon Wadi Bih Run
  • Where: Golden Tulip Hotel in Dibba, Oman
  • When: Solo races Feb 3, team relay Feb 4
  • Contact: www.premieronline.com to sign up, www.wadibih.com for info

“Over the last 10 years, the category has developed from a few extreme athletes attempting something different to the ultimate long distance regional running challenge with stiff competition and some superb times.

“Anyone who completes this category deserves to be called the King of the Mountain.

“Regardless of your ability, there is a race for everyone. The original 72km team relay race is a favourite on the GCC running calendar.

“It really is a unique event, and many teams choose to make a weekend of it and camp on the beach ahead of the race. Make sure you register in advance to secure a slot for your team.”

Make sure to register by the deadline of Thursday, January 19 or sooner as places can sell out. Visit www.premieronline.com to sign up and www.wadibih.com for more information.

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Hit the open water at the Dragon Boat Festival

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The competition is open to corporate, social, university and school teams.

The new year is already two weeks old, but the UAE Dragon Boat Association (UDBA) has wasted little time in organising their next event.

More than 60 teams have signed up for their inaugural DP Dragon Boat Festival on January 27 and 28 at the Dubai Water Canal and with registration closing on Saturday, there’s still time to join them.

Since establishing in China, the sport has become hugely popular around the world and the UAE is no different with the dragon fever catching on across the country. UDBA’s calendar already consists of events in major emirates including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah attracting big numbers and this month’s, which is supported by the UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation, is set to build on that success.

“We’ll have around 1,000 people set to be there which is very encouraging,” said Jason Mackenzie, technical director of UDBA. “There have been a lot of team entries and there’s still room for teams to sign up before we reach our maximum capacity of 75.”

Categories range from novice to advanced with entries open for corporate, social, university and school teams, while training sessions will be offered prior to the event. Whether you’ve tried dragon boating before or not, Mackenzie insists it will be a memorable visit.

Light a fire: See why dragon boating has become a popular sport.

Light a fire: See why dragon boating has become a popular sport.

“I’ve been organising competitions for 10 years now and we get huge numbers,” he said. “There are many activities you can do here in the UAE, especially in sport and dragon boating is great to learn. You don’t need any experience and every team has their own individual technique when paddling so it’s easy to learn.

“It’s a very welcoming environment where you can feel part of the group and develop a social network with other teams and that extends way beyond the waters.”

He added: “For the free sessions, dvanced booking is required and the organisers will give them a time and day of when to practice.”

Besides the thrilling encounters on sea, competitors and spectators can look forward to plenty of activities on land.

“We have a lot of exciting things for people to do,” said Mackenzie. “There will be fitness classes, climbing walls, bouncy castles and food outlets, plus all the races are pretty exciting to watch so it will be a great day out.”

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