Dubai, United Arab Emirates - May 05, 2019: The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy continues to inspire future cycling champions, with hundreds turning out at Yas Marina Circuit to celebrate the success of the team’s latest cycling initiative.
Over 120 youngsters took part in the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy Open Day, with time trial races, skills challenges and introduction to cycling sessions on offer to children of all ages.
Those taking to the track to record their best times were pitted against UAE National Champion, Yousif Mirza, with the UAE’s only ever Olympic cyclist giving the enthusiastic youngsters hints and tips on developing into competitive riders. He was also on hand to give encouragement to those who were part of the introduction to cycling sessions – something the Emirati feels is extremely important, especially as the UAE continues to invest in cycling infrastructure.
“It’s fantastic that we have so many young cyclists eager to compete in competitive races, but for me, it is just as important to see the younger kids learning to ride,” said Mirza. “As a youngster, I fell in love with cycling because it was a fun activity to do with my family and friends – I just enjoyed riding my bike. I see so many kids here with big smiles on their faces when they are riding, and I was exactly the same 20 years ago.”
The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy has been rolled out in three Abu Dhabi based schools over the past three weeks, with over 400 youngsters participating in a range of cycling sessions, covering three core areas of Bike Familiarisation, Bike Confidence and Bike Skills. The sessions, hosted by qualified British and Arabic instructors, were also an opportunity for the coaches to encourage and reinforce the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, particularly ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan where health and wellbeing is high on the agenda.
“Ramadan is a very special month, especially for youngsters who are going to be fasting for the first time. But it is important that we take care of our bodies by eating right and exercising regularly – cycling is a fantastic way to do that,” added Mirza.
Since July 2018, the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy has hosted three clinics – one in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi – seeing over 800 youngsters participate. The recent initiative, targeted specifically at encouraging Emirati’s to take up cycling, is having a profound impact, one that can only be positive for the future of the sport.
Commenting on the prospect of getting more Emiratis into cycling, Mirza said: “Attitudes towards the sport are changing and I’m starting to see more and more Emirati boys and girls enjoying cycling. It was great to see so many at the Youth Academy Open Day and I encourage them to continue riding and who knows, one day we could see an Emirati World Champion!”