Look: Dubai beach turns into giant playground for over 1,000 young swimmers, surfers

Through a unique programme, many of these kids are also taught how to save lives in various scenarios


Nasreen Abdulla

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Wed 17 May 2023, 1:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 May 2023, 3:39 PM

The Kite Beach in Jumeirah turned into a giant playground as more than 1,000 kids and teens between the ages of 4 and 19 competed against each other in various sports events — from open-water swimming to surfboarding.

Students of the Pirate Surf programme, who have been trained in diving and rescuing, fought off stiff competition on Saturday and displayed skills they have acquired over the years. Here is a quick look at how the day unfolded

Surfing and water sport have been an important part of the Pirate Surf programme. Launched by South African expat Candy in the UAE, the course teaches children not only to surf but also to watch out for the safety of others.

The students are also taught how to play volleyball, frisbee, and other beach games. “We want the children to feel comfortable around the sand as well as water,” said Candy. Pirate Surf is one of the world’s oldest running programme, having started in the 1920s in Australia and South Africa."


The 22-year-old head coach of Pirate Surf started with the group in 2010. According to Candy, several of those who graduated from the programme return as coaches and mentors.

According to Candy, Pirate Surf tries to build a sense of community among children and trains them to give back to society. “We are a bit spoilt here for choices,” she said. “And I want to teach them to never let go of an opportunity to be kind.”

Candy began Pirate Surf with nine children — including three of her own. Today, there are 1,200 children under the programme. Her eldest daughter (in the picture) is her business manager while her younger daughter is a coach.

Apart from beach and water skills, students are taught self-defence, Jiu-Jitsu, and even get classes from a marine biologist about preserving the environment. The children also travel to places like Sri Lanka and Zanzibar for CSR activities

The winners of this competition will participate in an international meet at Australia’s Gold Coast in 2024. Pirate Surf is also hosting the first-ever International junior lifesaving world championship in the UAE.

Coaches and students are often trained in several rescue scenarios by external trainers. According to Candy, the group has extensive support from Dubai Municipality in all their activities.


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