Meet the Emirati bowling prodigy who rose from 11-year-old novice to UAE champ

Al Fardan has become a pivotal member of the UAE bowling team

by

Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Published: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 3:22 PM

Last updated: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 1:22 PM

Mika Juhani Koivuniemi has a keen eye for talent. When the semi-retired ten-pin bowler and coach for the UAE national team spotted Emirati Mohammad Al Fardan bowling at a club, he knew what he was looking for.

Al Fardan was just 11 years old at the time.

Fast forward five years, and Al Fardan has become a pivotal member of the UAE bowling team. In recent years, he has achieved remarkable success, winning multiple bowling championships, most notably, the DIBC championship four times, the UAE Youth Championship twice, and the UAE Open Championship once.

In an interview with Khaleej Times, the 16-year-old reflected on how his casual hobby evolved into a dedicated pursuit.

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"It all began when Koivuniemi spotted me and started grooming me for the UAE national bowling team," he said. "I was overwhelmed with a mix of emotions — excitement, happiness, fear, and motivation. It felt like a dream come true."

Al Fardan dedicated himself to rigorous 10-hour daily training sessions. In his initial two years of foundational training, he faced a multitude of challenges while striving to grasp the techniques and skills necessary for a professional bowler. "There were moments when I seriously contemplated giving up, particularly after losses in tournament games," he confessed.

Nevertheless, the counsel from his coach to persevere served as a wellspring of motivation for him. "The most priceless lesson my coach imparted was that triumph in bowling, much like in life, hinges on unwavering dedication and relentless endeavour," Al Fardan remarked.

Even while still in high school, Al Fardan's achievements extend beyond the bowling alley. "I have received an outstanding student award at school, and academics remain my top priority; I cannot afford to let them slip. Additionally, I'm an avid chess player, and I make a conscientious effort to balance all three aspects throughout my week. Thus so far, I haven't encountered any significant challenges," he said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Al Fardan’s training came to a halt. However, this setback didn't diminish his love for the game; instead, it fuelled his passion for bowling. Upon his return to the alley, the teenage bowler felt revitalised and channelled the energy he had stored during the break into competitive endeavours.

His efforts bore fruit when he clinched multiple bowling championships. Al Fardan said, "These triumphs served as a validation of all the hard work and dedication I've invested in bowling. They represent significant milestones in my career, signalling that there's still much more to accomplish."

Contrary to stereotypes that portray bowling as less competitive than sports like football, Al Fardan firmly believes it demands an equal measure of skill, training, and determination to excel. By actively advocating for the sport and aiming to inspire more youth participation, he aspires to see bowling gain broader recognition in the UAE.

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