Sleepy Springs 7 really is a very unlikely ‘base-camp’ for a new sporting craze sweeping the globe. And yet, this winter the quiet residential area has become the ‘place-to-be’ for scooter riders from across the UAE. Time Out Kids decided to find out what scooter-riding is all about and discovers a frenzy of activity and energy erupting on some very dinky wheels.
Ok, first things first, what do we call this lot? If people who skate-board are called ‘skaters’, does that make scooter riders, ‘scooter-ers’ and the sport ‘scooting?’ It’s a question we pose throughout the day to both riders and spectators, but after a momentary skyward glance, they shrug and continue talking about the thrill, adrenaline and camaraderie involved in ‘scooting’. And, maybe that’s the point: terminology really is irrelevant to these kids, thanks to the sport’s fresh, fun and highly addictive nature.
Unlike conventional skate-boarding – which requires hours of practice just to create any semblance of controlled forward propulsion – scooters, with their nifty handles, allow kids ‘instant gratification’ and make cool tricks accessible really very early on. Not only that, but young kids can get in on the action, too. We witness tiddlers of five and six bombing around, hurtling up ramps and down slopes, pulling off highly impressive stunts by anyone’s standard.
We speak to Luke, age 12, (tipped as one of Dubai’s riders to watch). He recently arrived from Australia, where the sport is growing exponentially. His obsession began at nine years old. ‘I’ve gone on camp, taken loads of lessons and I practice when ever I can, if I’m at home I’m You Tubing new tricks or speaking to other riders,’ he says. His dad, Bryce, watching proudly from the sidelines, tells us why he actively encourages his son to ‘scoot’. ‘We move around a lot like many ex-pats here,’ he says. ‘Scooter riding allows Luke to be part of a community wherever we live. Riders speak the same language, wear the same clothes and listen to the same music; it’s his instant entry to a social life in any country.’
Maurice Doreleijers of Dorell Sports and the mastermind behind the park isn’t new to introducing innovative and exciting sports to the UAE’s youngsters. With state of the art climbing walls in Dubai and Al Ain and trekking and survival courses among his unique successes, his finger is firmly on the pulse of ‘what’s hot and not’ in global sporting trends. His philosophy is simple: keep it affordable, make class sizes small, bring in engaging and internationally respected instructors and watch kids integrate a love of sport and healthy activity into their daily life.
Emaar group’s continued commitment to developing the communities they create has been a major driving force throughout the renovations, and Maurice says without their support the project would not have been possible. Together they have implemented extensive upgrades, including new surfaces, additional jumps and new panels. Yet his plans don’t stop there: in the future he hopes to add more exciting elements, too.
For most of us, getting the kids active can seem like a Herculean task: there’s the booking and scheduling, the driving to and from, and the costs of tuition fees and equipment – and all for an hour’s activity before they thunder back inside and flop limply in front of the screen again. ‘Scooting’ however, is different – as much a way of life as a sport. Luke and co have been at the park all day, arriving before it opened and only leaving when their parents arrive to literally drag them into waiting cars. In fact, most of the kids say they’d happily be there all weekend if their parents allowed it. The mega cheap Dhs25/35 for an entire day, certainly won’t break anyone’s bank.
Both Maurice and Bryce emphasise the life-lessons youngsters learn from the sport, from balance, fitness, dedication and perseverance, to the friendships made and following the unwritten code of park etiquette, which requires sharing, waiting and helping others. And it’s true, while we’re there we only witness smiles, high-fives and encouragement amongst the kids zipping around.
The park is also suitable for skate-boards and BMX riding. Dorell sports are the sole agents for MADD skate gear and plan to sell the equipment both in the shop planned in the park grounds and via their new online retail hub, currently under construction. The park is open everyday from 2pm-10pm. Weekday passes cost Dhs25, weekend Dhs35, monthly membership is also available at Dhs299. Sk8 Class Course cost Dhs650 for 8 classes with a 4-person max for each instructor. The park is located in Springs 7 beside the mini-mall. For more information see www.dorellsports.com.