Winners pose for a picture with Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi and Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri during the presentation ceremony.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The came to a thrilling close as a raucous crowd of parents, friends, and family filled the UAE capital’s Jiu-Jitsu Arena to show support as a host of youngsters took to the mats to show their skills.
The final afternoon of the two-day championship featured fierce competition among both the boys and girls, particularly in the infant (10-11), junior (12-13), and teen categories. Sharjah Self-Defence Sports Club took first place with 2,232 points, while Gladiators Academy came in second with 1,473 and Al Ain Club third with 1,408. The UAE finished top of the nations rankings for the weekend with 5,017 points, followed by Jordan with 755 points and Egypt with 669 points.
Mansour Al Dhaheri, UAEJJF’s Board Member, said the success of the Challenge Jiu-Jitsu Festival – Abu Dhabi is evidence that the strategy for growing both the sport and UAE athletes’ position within the sport through local tournaments can prove fruitful.
“The federation’s long-term strategy is primarily focused on sustaining talent development and providing an appropriate environment for the development of physical and mental capabilities of the athletes,” he said. “By organising tournaments that adhere to the highest professional standards and exposing them to a competitive environment that fosters a sense of responsibility and self-confidence, we are sure we can create an important pipeline of local jiu-jitsu talents.”
Dhaheri went on to say UAE families have become increasingly aware of the value of jiu-jitsu in shaping their children’s personalities and encouraging them to live a healthy lifestyle, as well as recognising their own important role as parents in promoting the sport and growing the number of participants at events such as this weekend’s.
Khaled Al Mahri, Director of Aafaq Islamic Finance’s Abu Dhabi Branch (Diamond partner of the UAEJJF), lauded the tournament’s exceptional atmosphere and crowd attendance, which he said injects enthusiasm and prestige into such events. “Through the Challenge Jiu-Jitsu Festival, we were able to discover a growing generation of talents with a wealth of expertise and competence,” he said. “We wish them a future full of successes.”
Meanwhile, the tournament drew a large crowd of parents and families who cheered on their children and enjoyed an atmosphere on par with world championships. Young jiu-jitsu students meanwhile experienced the passion and excitement of competition, particularly as the tournament’s rules are the same as those used in professional tournaments.
Afra Al Hosani, among the cheering crowd, said she came to support her brothers Zayed and Ahmed, who were both competing and found an atmosphere that was both energising and encouraging, contributing to the motivation of the players to try their hardest.
“We watched tough competitors in this event,” says Essam Al-Najjar, father of 13-year-old Khaled Al Najjar, “My son is used to a competitive atmosphere as this is his fourth participation in the tournament. He has won two gold medals in previous versions.”
Among the dignitaries who attended the competitions were Abdel Moneim Al Hashemi, the Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, President of the Asian Federations and Senior Vice President of the International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, Mohammed Salem Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, Dr Bushra Al Mulla, Director General of Family Care Authority, Fahad Ali Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the UAEJJF, among a number of other UAEJJF officials and representatives of clubs and academies.