The popularity of Fazza Championship for Falconry for Juniors could be judged by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the participating youngsters, with the youngest being only three-and-a-half years.
In today's world of fast cars and high-speed technology, some young people in the UAE find time to connect with their roots. This is none other than developing an interest in falcons, a bird that holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Emiratis.
On close observation, this is no easy task, as skill, time, patience and perseverance are required to master the art of falconry. The thrill, however, lies in the opportunity to view the power, grace and beauty of the falcon at close quarters.
More than 250 young falconers vied for honours at the "Fazza Championship for Falconry for Juniors” organised and supervised by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre on January 2 at Ruwayyah (formerly the Dubai Bypass Road). The contest gave an opportunity to youngsters to showcase their skill in falconry, a traditional sport in the UAE, in a two-day competition.
The enthusiasm of the participants and the high standards displayed at the event revealed that the sport is in safe hands and will survive the technology era.
Nine-year-old Rashid Ahmed Al Saghir won the first place in the Gyr Tabeh Wahash category on day one, finishing in 15.515 seconds.
Mohammed Saif bin Markhan won the first place in the Gyr Tabeh category (300 metres) on day two, after his falcon finished the race in 13.846 seconds. Maitha bin Saeed came in a strong second, finishing in 13.912 seconds, while Obaid Saeed bin Saroud secured the third place in 13.929 seconds.
The terms of the juniors' competition stipulate that the falconer releasing the bird and the holder of the telwah (prey) at the finish line must be in the same junior category in which the age of participants cannot exceed 14 years. The youngest participant at the competition was three-and-a-half year old Ali Saeed Shaheen.
Souad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of the Fazza Championships, said: "The juniors' category was introduced to encourage children to take up falconry and to instil in them a sense of pride about their national heritage, culture and tradition. As this is a community event, they have to demonstrate a commitment to rules and regulations, which teaches them to be more responsible and disciplined. We are very pleased with the large number of children in the juniors' category and with the positive feedback we received from participants and their parents.”
Al Saghir said: "My father and relatives encouraged me to practice this traditional sport that enjoys a special status in the UAE culture. I have attended previous tournaments but am participating for the first time. I came with the desire in my heart to win the first place and I am happy I succeeded in achieving my goal.”
Mohammed Saif bin Markhan also expressed his delight at securing the first place, and thanked Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, for providing an opportunity for young lovers of the sport to participate in such a competitive tournament.
He expressed his thanks to all the officials at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre for their unwavering support for local heritage activities.
Added Abdullah Ahmad bin Mejren, the father of 12-year-old Ahmed, who took part in the championship for the second time this year: "The legacy of falconry is one that has been passed down by generations, and I am therefore keen to encourage my children to take part in such tournaments.
The falcons participating in this category are usually young, so their performance is affected by wind. In spite of the age of participants, the level of competition has been of a surprisingly high standard.”
The top three winners in each category received valuable prizes, while the top 10 winners also took home cash awards.
Source: Khaleej Times