Mohamed Salem Al Dhaheri.
With the squad comprising the likes of world class athletes including Omar Al Suwaidi, veteran Faisal Al-Ketbi and Omar Al Fadhli to name a few, UAE team are among favourites for a rich medal haul at Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
Ahead of the championship Gulf Today spoke to Mohamed Salem Al Dhaheri, Deputy Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
Excerpts from an interview.
Q. What are the chances that the UAE jiu-jitsu team will retain the Asian Championship title? What kind of practice sessions did the team have leading up to the competition?
A. The UAE national jiu-jitsu team has been taking out stellar performances lately and is coming off one of its finest performances as our players gear up for this week’s Asian Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. We have complete faith in the national team to build on their outstanding success from the previous year, when they won the Asian Championship in Manama, Bahrain, the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Abu Dhabi, and their medal-winning performance at World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, US.
The team has been getting ready for the tournaments exceptionally well. They have been provided with the best coaches and technical team. The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation spares no effort to make sure the team has access to the best resources and top-notch training required to enable them to perform so effectively. In the weeks preceding the Asian Championship, the team underwent a training camp in the UAE. Then they were sent to a training camp in Sydney where they were put through an intensive training programme. It puts a lot of emphasis on improving their technical; skills while getting them mentally and physically fit for international competitions.
Q. Could you elaborate on how the national team performed in the earlier editions of the Asian championship?
A. The UAE team is the Asian Championship’s reigning champion. Last year, the team successfully defended their continental title in Bahrain, winning an incredible 16 medals. They also made the record by becoming the first nation in the history of the competition to win eight gold medals, which is more than half of the total on offer. The team put on a great show at the 5th Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championship in Abu Dhabi in 2021 as well to take first place in the medal standings with 18 medals, which included four gold, four silver, and 10 bronze.
Q. Could you briefly explain some of your efforts to bring the sport to the grass root level among Emirati society?
A. Integrating jiu-jitsu into the Emirati society at the grassroots level is a goal of the UAEJJF. If you could look at our calendar, we have four Challenge Jiu-Jitsu Festival events scheduled for the new season. Challenge events are special, well-planned competitions where boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 17 can compete in a range of belt grades. The competitions have drawn a lot of interest from parents and families, who have signed up their children for the events. The fact that families are keen on the sport, proves that the efforts by the UAEJJF are paying off.
Q. What other major international events are you most anticipating this year, besides the Asian Championship?
A. The UAE national team has a compelling schedule of international competitions planned for the new season, which helps in maintaining their success thus far. After the Asian Championship, the team will participate in the Jiu-Jitsu Grand Prix in France in April and Open Jiu-Jitsu Grand Prix in Thailand in May. The World Jiu-Jitsu Championship for Adults and Para in Mongolia in July, the World Youth Championship in Kazakhstan in August, the World Combat Games in Saudi Arabia in October, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand in November, the World Jiu-Jitsu Beach Cup in Thailand in September, and the Asian Games in China in October are also on the team’s radar.