Just for kicks


We’ve rounded up some of the capital’s most unique sports from roller derby to ringette

Abu Dhabi suffers no shortage of sporting options. From large clubs that offer tennis and swimming lessons to groups of residents that have formed volleyball and football teams, there are a variety sports to try your hand at.

But this culturally diverse city is also home to several unique sports that some residents have never even heard of, or never considered giving a go. So strap
on your boots, saddle up, grab a stick and get your kicks!

Slalom kayaking

There is no doubt that the capital offers some facilities that can cool you down in the Arabian sun, but there is a sport that will get your heart pumping and body temperature soaring, and make the cool waters at Wadi Adventure in Al Ain a refreshing welcome.

Slalom kayaking is a tough and core-crunching activity. The white waters at this centre are paramount and offer an ideal environment for learners and experts alike.

Slalom kayaking is a course in which dangling poles, better known as gates, line a route in which the kayaker must traverse until the end of the course. Your course is timed and time penalties are incurred if gates are missed or passed in an incorrect way.

This is wet, wild and guaranteed to get your upper body in shape.

For more information, visit: www.wadiadventure.ae



You don’t need to go riding through the glen with a band of men to enjoy the sport of archery. What began as a method of hunting and combat, has gained popularity as a recreational activity and sport thanks to recent characters such as Lord of the Rings elf Legolas and Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen.

The sport sees the archer shoot an arrow at a target. Sound simple? Various elements come into play that can help perfect your shot from the equipment you use to your technique. Taking up the right stance, choosing your dominant eye and learning how to draw the string is only the start.

Budding bowmen can take aim with the Al Ain Archers. Taking advantage of the facilities at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club, Al Ain Archers offers courses on various days for people of all levels.

For more information, visit: www.al-ain-archers.com



Those accustomed to racquet sports may know about this one, but for those who don’t, here is a chance to take up a game that fuses both tennis and squash.

Padel was created in Mexico and has a strong following in Latin America and Spain. Padel is a game played in an enclosed area about half the size of a tennis court. Scoring is the same as tennis and the ball is very similar too, but this court has walls like squash, which are used to add to the space in which players can score points from. The racquet, however, is not stringed. It is solid and has a shorter handle than that of a tennis or squash racquet.

The game is played with four people working in pairs. We recommend making your way to the Abu Dhabi Country Club to play the game on the recently installed courts. Lessons take place with coach Raul Cuesta Santos.

To book a lesson, call: 02 657 7777 or visit www.adcountryclub.com 




Ever wondered what it would be like to explore the underwater world with a single breath? Freediving is one of the most challenging sports but undeniably liberating for its athletes. Divers submerge themselves underwater, holding their breath, using only a mask, snorkel and pair of fins.

The UAE’s history of freediving began, not as a sport, but a way of life for pearl divers who dove to great depths in search of oysters. Today, freediving is both a competitive sport and recreational activity.

Freediving UAE is a community of professional freedivers that offers courses and training in the discipline. The group, which is currently trying to create a UAE Freediving Team to compete in the 2015 championships, hopes to promote the sport within the UAE.

For more information, visit: www.freedivinguae.com


Roller derby

Dominated by all-female teams, roller derby is garnering fans around the world.

The contact sport is played by two teams, each made up of five members, which circuit a track in the same direction. Each game consists of short jams where one scoring player – known as a jammer – tries to lap members of the opposite team to score points. The jammer’s teammates use various tactics from ‘walling up’ to ‘goating’ to stop the opposing team’s jammer from getting past.

Abu Dhabi Roller Derby is pulling out all the stops to help boost the image of the sport here in the Emirate. The capital league is recruiting skaters of all levels, from wobbly beginners to experienced derby girls. Practice sessions are held weekly both outdoors at Zayed Sports City and indoors at du Forum, Yas Island. Expect a series of drills to help prepare you for bouts and get you steady on your skates.

For more information, visit: the Abu Dhabi Roller Derby Facebook page


Gaelic football

Many of the capital’s residents play football, but not many know about the high-speed game of Gaelic football. Taking place at Zayed Sports City, this full-throttle game is a great way to get outdoors, get fit and certainly try something new.

It’s a game of 15 players per team, where players can carry, bounce, kick, hand-pass and solo – a technique of dropping the ball and then kicking it back up to the hands while running. The game is physical and offers an incredible cardiovascular workout. The aim of the game is to get the ball into your opponent’s goal or over the crossbar between the posts.

Abu Dhabi Na Fianna is a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club that offers this pulsating game. Men women and children are all welcome to train at the club, which also offers a full schedule of social and cultural activities.

For more information, visit: www.abudhabinafianna.com 


Horse riding

Horses have been used in sport for decades, with various competitive disciplines rising in popularity in recent years.

The sport is both challenging and rewarding, as both horse and rider have to be fit and athletic. While there are a variety of disciplines including the Olympic sports of dressage, show jumping and eventing, beginner riders must start with the basics. If you’ve never ridden before, expect to take things slowly as you learn to feel comfortable in the saddle, communicate with your horse and train muscles you never knew you had.

Located in the heart of the city, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is a haven for horse lovers. The club offers lessons in various disciplines including show jumping and racing for riders of all levels. The club’s riding season is underway with lessons ranging from AED 350 for a private lesson to AED 300 for a group lesson.

For more information, call: 02 445 5500


Sporting clays

You won’t find any birds in this discipline, which is a variation of clay pigeon shooting. If you think you’ve got fast reflexes, this may be the sport for you.

Though originally created to simulate live quarry shooting, the sport now uses clay saucers that are shot out of ‘traps’. Mimicking the unpredictability of live birds, targets are shot from various angles so shooters don’t know where the next target will come flying from.

The capital’s resident sports resort, Al Forsan, boasts 18 sporting clay ranges catering to all levels of shooters. The dedicated multi-level pavilions also offer ‘five stand’ and ‘Compak Sporting’, both variations of sporting clay. The six skeet fields offer American, English and Olympic skeet while the desert flush and flash flush offer the chance for shooters to go head to head on a ‘bird hunt’. Basic clay target lessons start at AED 275.

For more information, call: 02 556 8555



Sometimes trying a new sport or hobby can be a little daunting, especially when you don’t know anyone or even the rules of the game itself. But thanks to a diverse and unique martial art, there is now an activity that welcomes you with open arms.

Capoeira is a Brazilian sport that blends martial arts, gymnastics, music and dance. It is a great workout, both physically and mentally and can help with stress and overall health.

There are only ever two competitors at one time. With particular moves and combinations, the aim is to put your player into submission, without contact. Capoeira is the only martial art that dares those competing to not make strikes that connect. It’s all about timing, balance, rhythm and positioning. The losing player is then replaced with a new contender, all in the rhythm of the beat – a little like a new dance partner.

Alex Filadelfo, better known as Mestre Caxias, is the master teacher and founder of Capoeira UAE, and he expressed how capoeira is more than just a sport.

“Most of my students, both local and expats, have become good friends and we meet frequently outside classes; this is something that gives me great pleasure. I call them my capoeira family and we welcome everyone.”

For more information, contact Alex at: caxiascapoeira@hotmail.com



From kong vault to cat jump, gap jump to monkey, we then finish with a roll. This isn’t a trip to the zoo, this is parkour.

Along the Abu Dhabi Corniche lie plenty of smooth pathways, hand railings and small walls. To us, these have a practical use, but to certain residents of the capital, these obstacles pose the perfect parkour playground.

Parkour is fast for both body and mind, fluid and most importantly, fun. The idea of parkour, also known as free running, is to move from one place to another with obstacles in place in the most fluid and smooth movement. Certain moves have been created in order to hurdle such walls, rails and pathways; the movement name resembles the animal it has taken the technique from.

Parkour is free and is an incredible workout for the entire body. Moves become more complex as the obstructions become more difficult, but you’ll learn all of this thanks to the guys at UAE Parkour. And with the weather finally starting to cool, there is no time like the present to monkey your way around the city.

For more information, visit: www.uaeparkour.com 



Some sports are seriously cool and ringette is one of them. The Canadian game is still new, having first been introduced in 1963 in Ontario.

While some ringette rules are similar to ice hockey, the most notable difference is the use of a straight, lightweight stick and a blue rubber ring instead of a hockey puck. Six players from each team can take to the ice at any one time, with each holding a different position from defender to forward.

Local group, Ringette Abu Dhabi, has been sharing the sport with the capital’s young skaters since 2012. Boys and girls aged five to 12 are welcome to join the group at Zayed Sports City but should have a grasp of skating basics. Fees are AED 30, inclusive of all equipment except skates, which can be hired at the venue.

While the group practises three time a week, sessions are occasionally cancelled due to other games on the ice. To stay up to date, visit the Facebook page ‘Kids with Sticks – Ringette Abu Dhabi’.

For more information, call: 02 403 4333


Water polo

Fancy turning up the heat in the pool? Then make your way to the Abu Dhabi Armed Forces Officers Club and give water polo a try.

Teams consist of six field players and one goalkeeper. The aim of the game is to throw the ball between team players and throw the ball in to the opposition’s goal. Each team has up to six substitutes including one substitute goalkeeper.

This game requires lots of swimming, treading water and lots of contact; this sport is one that will test your muscular stamina to the max.

The Abu Dhabi Hammerheads Water Polo Club is a great introduction for newcomers, along with those with experience and those who are new to the capital. The team also competes against five other teams based across the UAE.

Male and female teams are currently running at the club, with weekly training sessions available on Wednesdays from 8pm onwards. Each class is AED 50, which pays for the pool hire; this is a not-for-profit organisation.

For more information, email: adwphammerheads@yahoo.com 

Jack Dignum and Rachael Peacock




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