These classes are fit for little athletes

From swimming pools and dance studios to horses and golf courses, here’s our guide to finding a sport to suit your child

Whether it’s a team or individual discipline, there’s no doubt that playing sports has multiple benefits for children. Aside from being a physical activity that helps keep them healthy and fit, sport can help build self-esteem and confidence, encourage team work and responsibility and just give them a break from school work.

Even if you think your child isn’t the sporty type, here’s your guide to what’s on offer in Abu Dhabi with classes and academies to suit every child.

Horse riding

It may not be the first sport that comes to mind, but horse riding is a tough discipline that will help build your child’s confidence, strength, discipline and responsibility.

It’s also one of the few sports that involves animals, which is proven to have various benefits for youngsters. At Mandara Equestrian Club, your children can not only learn how to ride but also learn the ins and outs of caring for a horse from brushing to cleaning out the stable and putting on the saddle. From AED 250 for a group class. Lot 991, Rahba Farm, Al Bahya. Times vary. Contact: 02 563 3830, mandaraclub.com

Swimming

Even if your children will never be competitive swimmers, teaching them to swim is an essential life skill that will keep them safe around water. Thankfully, it’s summer all year round here – well, almost – and with a few extra lessons, swimming could turn from a fun activity into a healthy hobby.

The Sports School at Abu Dhabi Country Club offers group swimming classes for children aged four to 17 throughout the week. From AED 70 per class. Shakhbout Bin Sultan Street, Al Mushrif. 7am-11pm. Contact: 02 657 7765, sportsschool@adcountryclub.com

Martial arts

Has your child ever wanted to turn those video game fights into real life without the harmful or painful consequences? Well, martial arts training may be just what they’re looking for.

A great strength-building exercise for kids, sports like karate teach children about respect and discipline in a safe and fun environment. From its eight branches across the emirate, the Oriental Karate and Kobudo Club holds junior classes for children aged five years old and above, with a syllabus that also includes skills such as gymnastics. AED 150 per month. Various locations including Mussafah and Khalifa Street. Times vary. Contact: 02 677 1611, orientalkarate.com

Ballet

Ballet dancers are the epitome of elegance, beauty and grace, and inspire many young girls who dream of being a prima ballerina. Your child can learn this fun but disciplined dance genre at Barefoot Creative Play & Dance Studio, with classes aimed at children aged four to seven years old.

Not only is it a fun hobby, but a great sport for building strength and flexibility from a young age. From AED 55 per class. Capital Plaza Towers, Tower C, Corniche. Contact: 02 677 0611, barefootuae.com

Football

The beautiful sport has obvious global appeal. From car parks to the neighbour’s living room, children just can’t seem to get enough of it. Zayed Sports City Football Academy at the UAE national stadium is offering training for children aged four to 16. It even has separate high performance squad training for non-beginners aged ten to 16.

Kids will learn the general rules of the game as well as skills like dribbling, tackling and shooting before testing their talent in regular matches. From AED 450 per hour. Saif Ghubash Street. Contact: 02 403 4222, footballacademy@zsc.ze

Basketball

It isn’t only High School Musical’s Troy Bolton who’s going to rock the world with his amazing voice and basketball skills. Dolphin Sports Academy provides basketball classes for boys and girls (sans singing and dancing) where they can learn skills and drills to improve their game. From AED 70 per hour. Abu Dhabi Country Club, Shakhbout Bin Sultan Street, Al Mushrif. Contact: 02 657 7765, sportsschool@adcountryclub.com

Gymnastics

While gymnastics may seem like a sport that takes years and years to perfect, it can also be as simple as signing up your children to some classes to build strength, flexibility, confidence and discipline. Jump Sports Academies School provides gymnastics classes for children aged 13 to 17 years old, without requiring any previous background or skills. From AED 85 per class. Amity International School, Al Bahya. Contact: 02 449 4621, jumpsports.ae

Volleyball

Volleyball is a versatile sport that kids might be found playing in PE class, on the beach or at the park. It involves hand-eye coordination, teamwork and concentration and is a great team sport that’s growing in popularity.

At Al Forsan International Sports Resort, you can sign your children up for indoor and outdoor classes where they’ll learn how to serve, pass, attack, block and defend while enjoying the benefits of the game. From AED 200 indoors, AED 100 outdoors. Khalifa City. 9am-11pm. Contact: 02 556 8555, info@alforsan.com

Golf

Not all sports are about running, jumping and working up a sweat as you dart back and forth down the pitch. Whether your children enjoy playing mini golf and want to try the real thing or their personalities are better suited to this slow and steady game of tactics, why not try signing them up for golf lessons? Abu Dhabi Golf Club offers classes for juniors aged six to 17 so they can perfect their swing and learn their wedges from their woods. From AED 3,623 for a one-year junior membership. Off E10, Sas Al Nakhl. Times vary. Contact: 02 885 3555, membership@adgolfclub.ae

Tennis

In the age of video games and technology, Wii Sports became a favourite when it came to doing some ‘exercise’ – and the tennis game proved a hit with many families. But the real thing is miles better, and comes with many more benefits, too.

ZSC Academy offers group and individual tennis classes for children of all ages, even as young as three. Essential hand-eye-coordination, balance and speed are all skills that your kids can learn from this exciting sport. From AED 242 for private lesson to AED 1,575 for group. Zayed Sports City and Emirates Palace. Times vary. Contact: 02 403 4222, tennisacademy@zsc.ae

Cricket

Cricket may not be the most common sport but that doesn’t make it any less important. Get your kids outside for great games of bats and balls running around a big circuit. Sign them up to the Zayed Cricket Junior Academy, which offers training for children aged 15 and under.

Kids will learn how to sprint between wickets and run to stop balls as well as bowling and throwing. Through these exercises, they will benefit greatly by gaining endurance and stamina. AED 400 per term. Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, near Khalifa City. Contact: 02 558 8331, adcricketclub.ae

Rugby

If your children have boundless energy and are super competitive, then rugby may be the sport for them. Combine all that excess energy and drive with thorough training, practice and a cylindrical ball and you’ve got yourself a professional rugby player – well, maybe.

 

Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Junior club conducts classes to teach children aged four to 19 years old vital skills in the sport, including general rules of the game. This competitive sport will provide your kids with important qualities like perseverance, team-work and courage. From AED 500 for a trial. Zayed Sports City, Saif Ghubash Street. Contact: info@abudhabiquins.com, abudhabiquins.com

WORDS Reem Makari