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Life's a beach

15th May

From the Gulf Weekly, May 15 - 21, 2013

Stan Szecowka


SPORTS lovers will be going beach barmy this coming Friday at Amwaj Islands, as Bahrain hosts its first sports ‘Beach Fever’ Festival as part of the 2013 Manama Capital of Arab Tourism celebrations.


A host of attractions are being staged at Kite Beach with competitive action, music, merriment and children’s entertainment in a bid to woo thousands of families and fans to the event.


Event organisers Sportique88 say this is the first high-profile community event after the successful Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. It is just one of a series of activities in a sporting calendar to help create a sporting awareness in the country, boost business and tourism and reignite international confidence.


Martin Whitaker, its managing director, said: “There will be something for everyone this coming weekend at Amwaj Islands, particularly for water sports enthusiasts. But anyone who enjoys a sporty day at the beach will be in for a pleasant and fun-filled surprise.”


Tons of fine, high-quality sand has been delivered to the site, close to the Kazerooni villas development, to ensure there are international-standard playing arenas for beach soccer, volleyball and handball games while on the water kite surfing, kayaking, paddling, wake boarding and a biathlon will entertain and excite competitors and spectators alike. Action takes place between 9am-9pm.


Bahrain’s top beach soccer stars will be trying to impress celebrated Brazilian-born coach Gustavo ‘Guga’ Zloccowicz who became head coach of the Bahrain Beach Soccer National Team again in January.


He travelled back to the Middle East to take the reins of a team he commanded into the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups of 2006 and 2009. He said: “This is a fantastic initiative for Bahrain and we are really looking forward to putting on a great show and organising a wonderful event. Beach soccer is fun for everyone and is also a game that so many Bahrainis both love and excel at. I am really looking forward to this event becoming an annual part of the Bahrain sporting calendar.”


Tackling the waves and the wind will be adventure-loving Ryan Hughes, 38, an experienced kitesurfer who has been featured in GulfWeekly.


The hybrid sport, which has grown in popularity at Amwaj Islands over the past four years, is a mesmerising mixture of kiting and surfing that has taken over the water recreation areas of some of the most popular beaches around the globe.


Mr Hughes, owner of family business Skate Shack, from Amwaj, said: “Kitesurfng has grown in popularity and the number of people taking part has increased.


“Water sports in general have kicked off, especially in the past three years.


“Some people here think water sports are going out on a jet ski but there are so many things going on and it’s all about health. People go out wakeboarding to stay ft. We do have a lot of people who are really interested in doing the sport for fun and for fitness. Also, this is great because we don’t really have a beach culture in Bahrain.


“I will have some kayaks and surf boards for people to try as well as training kites, simple light fying kites that people can test out to see if they like the sport.”


On the land, a stage will host popular DJ Stevie George, a Latino band, Zumba keep-ft exercisers and a variety of free children’s entertainment activities. Safety is a priority and swimming and water sport safety tips and advice will be offered to visitors.


“Bahrain has so much to offer the community in terms of sport and there is a real sense of involvement building within the kingdom for the 2013 Manama Capital of Tourism events and we are delighted that the Season of Sport is beginning to attract so much support.


“We have a full programme of events planned over the coming months and we are looking forward to these events becoming an integral part of the Bahrain calendar in the future”, added Mr Whitaker.


The aim is to use the expertise gained by the successful delivery of the annual grand prix and part of the cultural and sporting lifestyle.


Sport is one of the four successive quarterly tourism themes. The first Season of Culture ended in March and the Season of Sport kicked off in April coinciding with Formula One, to continue this month and into June.


Sports under the spotlight will include new activities growing in popularity with relevance to the island and young people in particular.


This project aims to promote Bahrain as a major sporting destination with a number of exhibitions and sporting activities, including squash and speed-rock expand its influence with ‘a season climbing, to involve the Bahraini of sport’ by organising a series of international level exhibitions and activities, at both junior and senior levels, to the kingdom as a component of the high-profile community and encourage the young people on the island to get involved.


Importantly it will highlight, to expats and Bahrainis, the Manama Capital of Arab Tourism tremendous level of sporting 2013 initiative.


The objective is to build a legacy for sport which ensures that international sporting events return to Bahrain year-on-year and become a much anticipated facilities and infrastructure that is present in the kingdom.


It will also ensure that the eyes of the world are focused on Bahrain in a positive light and sports supremo Mr Whitaker has been tasked with helping to co-ordinate the plans. The former CEO of the Bahrain International Circuit, stated that the season aims to bring pride, passion and value to Bahrain by creating awareness.


The 52-year-old recently returned to the kingdom and is renowned throughout the world of sport for his vast network of contacts after holding senior roles in various motor sport bodies.


He said: “We are going to be organising predominantly exhibition sporting activities that will generate a foothold in Bahrain, expanding them as a community outreach programme.


“Sport is such an important part of everyone’s lives and we need to take advantage of our natural environment where sport and sport tourism can play such a vital and significant role. New sport properties will also be available, with the focus very much on young people, their fitness and desire to achieve a new goal.


“Squash is an accepted sport but doesn’t have a huge profile, so we are bringing in one of the new glass courts and putting it in one of the shopping malls. We are effectively bringing sport to the spectator rather than the other way around. There is nothing new in this principle, but the key here is to deliver showcase events that will resonate within the community and return year-on-year.


“The Amwaj event is the first of the Season of Sport and we look forward to a great event, a great turnout and many more such events in the future.”





Amwaj Islands Press contact:
Marketing and PR
Amwaj Islands
(00973) 1603 3100