Step up to sport

Who said that huge sporting events are just for the grown ups?


Who said that huge international sporting events are just for the grown ups?
Want your kids to get involved? There are heaps of opportunities for children to volunteer and participate in the UAE’s biggest events, discovers Shalaka Paradkar.

Many of Dubai’s world-class sporting events would be impossible without the efforts of dedicated volunteers. From marshals on the greens at the Dubai World Championship to ball boys and girls at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis, volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. And yes, there’s even room for pint-size helpers.

The good news is, there’s more space being made for children to actively become a part of these sporting events.


Billed as one of the biggest party weekends of the year, the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens (December 1-3) is a heaving, thrilling and entertaining three days of white hot rugby action. Donal Kilalea, tournament director for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, says: ‘We try to involve the local community as much as possible and encourage children to help and participate in the event. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them. Over the years the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens organisers have built up a strong list of children and teens who volunteer for the event. The ball kids are volunteers from English College and this has been thanks to the efforts of sports master and rugby coach Jon Kendry. English College was the first school to volunteer its students to support the event.’

Nearly 250 volunteers are needed at the event. For the three-day tournament, children start training beforehand to learn the ropes. They must commit their whole weekend to volunteering.

‘When you volunteer is that you become a part of the total event: seeing the action, picking up skills and seeing the sport you love up close. The children thoroughly enjoy it, and they learn so much from the experience: how to work as a team and under time restrictions, they learn responsibilities on pitch and off pitch, and above all, they learn what it takes to make a big event like this happen.’
Visit to find out more.


As golfing season gets underway, hundreds of volunteers swing into action to ensure UAE’s leading international tournaments go off with-out a hitch. A junior theme is very much part of the forthcoming Dubai World Championship presented by DP World (December 8-11 at Jumeirah Golf Estates). Youngsters from Dubai will be actively involved in the organisation of the tournament, including over 130 students from GEMS Wellington International School, Dubai. They’ll be running the on-course scoring support for the master scoreboards in the international village and media centre, as well as the on-course leaderboards and carrying mobile leaderboards for all 30 of the matches, which will inform the public of all current scores for all players. Students from Emirates International School are also involved, and will be volunteering at the Rolex Pro-Am on December 6, carrying golf bags for amateurs.

The four-day tournament even has a Kid’s Zone, with activities for children of all ages located in the Tennis Academy. Included in this area is ShortGolf – a new concept for the Middle East. ShortGolf is a brand new, first-touch coaching and playing system to make golf easier and more fun: think colourful, oversized clubs, soft balls and innovative ‘sticky’ targets. The two clubs, the ‘hitta!’ and the ‘putta!’, come in three sizes from five years to adult, so everyone can join in.

Nick Tarratt, director of the European Tour, International – Dubai Office commented: ‘It is great to get both junior golfers and non-golfing children involved. This will encourage families to attend as well as hopefully encourage some juniors to get interested in golf and take it up.’
Tickets are complimentary – visit Registration is done online through the tournament websites.


The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Champion-ship has been voted the best ATP World Tour 500 tournament by players. They received the award for the seventh time in eight years. That’s a stupendous acknow-ledgement of the hard work put in by Dubai Duty Free staff and volunteers to pull off one of the most glamorous events in the city’s sporting calendar.

For the ball boys and ball girls at the tournament, it’s also a great chance to see their favourite tennis stars up close. Selected from Dubai’s Clarke Francis Tennis Academy, the ball kids need to be above 11, blessed with quick reflexes, attentive and able to concentrate well on the game.

Training for the ball kids start in the first week of January next year, and once selected, they volunteer for two weeks at the event. They need not actually know how to play tennis, but they do need to possess the attributes needed to be helpful at this major event. Volunteers can come from any school in Dubai.

Last year, tennis pro Roger Federer said about the volunteers: ‘I think they work extremely hard. They’re very well organised, professional. I’m sure, every tournament’s worked on throughout the year to make it perfect for one week; it’s a pretty tough job.’
Visit for more info.


One of the great sporting events on the Dubai calendar, the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon takes place on January 27. The event offers three events with runners competing in the main marathon, the 10km and the 3km fun run. Age restrictions apply for the marathon and 10km run, with entry limited to those who are 18 and 15 years of age and above respectively.

‘The 3km fun run is open to all ages but obviously it is up to the discretion of parents if their children take part or not. However, one of the enduring images of previous fun runs is the number of families taking part with many parents even pushing young children in push chairs,’ says Alan Ewens, spokesperson for the event.

For the past five years, student volunteers from several UAE-based schools have assisted with the registration of the athletes taking part in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon and with other marshalling duties. The registration involves students working seven-hour shifts and dealing face to face with the general public. he event relies on the input of several bodies and organizations.
Groups of five students or more – aged between 16-18 – who wish to represent their school as volunteers at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon should get their teachers to contact Alex Jacobs on


The biggest cycling event in the UAE, Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge Cycle Safe Dubai takes off on December 16. Last year’s 92-km ride saw 500 cyclists taking to the tarmac, and that number is expected to double this year. It was a fun day out for families of pedal pushers, as children could take part in the 10km family ride around the track at the Autodrome. And there are plenty of volunteer positions open for the event.

‘We are looking for volunteer ride marshals to assist on the rides (to keep the groups together and control the pace), as well as handing out refreshments, getting involved on the track and to help out at information desks. We can use volunteers in the build up rides leading up to the event as well (an 80-km ride on November 25). With more than 150 riders on a Friday we want to keep it safe,’ says South African professional cyclist Stewart Howison, who is the event’s organiser.

Student volunteers are needed to help at the registration desks at Spinneys in Motor City, which will be one day before 92k challenge on December 15. ‘There is not much of an age restriction for the volunteers. We are looking for older children who can look after themselves and follow instructions,’ says Stewart. The volunteers will be given a certificate of attendance, refreshments, meals and a T-shirt, and their hours will be signed off (a requirement for IB curriculum schools). In return they must be able to commit up to six to seven hours on the day.
To register, email

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