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How an Emirati changed a youth's life, made him a sportsman in UAE

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on February 3, 2020 | Last updated on February 3, 2020 at 05.47 pm
 Emirati, changed, youths life, sportsman, UAE, Down syndrome
Omar Al Dhiyebi (R) Hamad Mohammed (L) at the opening of Middle East Youth Expo 2020 held at Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi.-Photo by Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times

Hamad Mohammed never got to learn the game he loved because of his condition.

The story of an Emirati owner of a football academy, who helped train a youngster with Down syndrome, is one of the several inspiring accounts revealed at a youth event in Abu Dhabi on Monday, February 3. The said youngster was very passionate about football, but academies turned him down due to his condition, the Middle East Youth Expo 2020 heard.

The region's largest youth engagement event - aimed at inspiring youngsters and to explore solutions for sustainable development - kicked off at Mubadala Arena, Zayed Sports City.

Hamad Mohammed never got to learn the game he loved because of his condition. Four years ago, Omar Al Dhiyebi, managing director, Regional Sports Football Academy and Club in Abu Dhabi, spotted Hamad watching his friends play at the academy's training ground.

"Hamad was 24 then. He was different from the youths who were training at the academy because of the way he looked ... and he was overweight," Al Dhiyebi told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the expo. "When I approached him, I realised he had Down syndrome, but was very passionate about football."

The Emirati welcomed Hamad to his academy and started coaching him separately so he could learn special skills, gain fitness and confidence. After achieving that, he gave the youth the chance to play with other young players in the academy.

Hamad is a changed man today - he is fit and happy. He made many friends when he represented the UAE in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. "I am really happy that I was given a chance by Al Dhiyebi," Hamad, 29, said. "I can now confidently interact with society and have many friends to hang out with."

The youth has helped the Special Olympics UAE team spread awareness among people of determination about their importance in the community and how they can achieve their dreams. He was given a special shirt by the UAE Special Olympics team.




Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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