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Preserving an identity.

Summary: Falconry is the passion of young Emiratis who enjoy the thrill of the heritage sport

Ahmed Juma Al Falahi: Falconry before school

Rashid Bin Mijrin: Participation more important than winning

Tiny tots, some of them just three years old followed the footsteps of their fathers as they displayed their love for falcons and falconry as a sport when they participated in the sixth edition of the Fakhr Al Ajyal (Pride of the Generation) Championship for Falconry Telwah organised and supervised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) in the Juniors category at the dedicated Fazza Falconry Championship site in Ruwayyah area off Emirates Road (exit 55) in Dubai recently.

Satisfaction It was not all about winning but more about participating and enjoying a heritage sport which gave the most satisfaction to parents who encouraged their children to continue a tradition passed down generations. Hamad Rashid Bin Mijrin's father Rashid was not disappointed that his three-year-old son and a winner at the Fazza Championship for Falconry Telwah last month, had to settle for second place in the Tabaa Wahish Car event.

"I'm actually very happy because just two days ago Hamad told me that even if I get fifth place I will be happy. I don't believe in teaching my son only about winning. Participating is more important," said Rashid Bin Mijrin who started taking Hamad to the desert when he was just two-and-a-half years old. "He is carrying them, flying them and watching me train falcons. He comes in the afternoon for two hours. He loves falconry, football, cycling, swimming and shooting like any other kid. For the time being, all he does now is release the falcon," said Rashid proudly.

Schooling Ahmed Juma Al Falahi, one of the youngest contestants, started racing with falcons even before he started schooling. "He is going to join kindergarten this season. When I have falcons, he is watching what his father is doing. When he saw me on television during a competition, he got excited and said he wanted to be like me. I brought him to participate in Dubai for the first time. He liked it. He started talking about it every day to family and friends," narrates Juma Abdullah Hareb Al Falahi, about his three-year-old son's passion for falconry.

"It's something that you want for the kids to make them happy. We are here not for the win but for the happiness of kids. The smile is more valuable than whatever he wins," said Al Falahi relating to how Ahmed's falcon was named 'Awsad'.

"I wanted to call the falcon 'Aswad' which means black in Arabic. When he wanted to say the name he said 'Awsat' so I called it by the same name," said Al Falahi. "In reality, at this age, he is not handling a bird every day. He is holding the bird in training and sometimes he releases the bird," he added.

Enjoyment Marwan Bin Mijrin, whose eight-year-old son Khalid came third in the Tabaa Wahish Cash event, also said participation is more important. "Participating, enjoying and doing it right. Every weekend and during school holidays he is always with falcons," said Mijrin.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Mijrin who won the Tabaa Wahish Cash race said the secret of his success was training the bird himself. "I love falconry because it is our culture. I find falconry more exciting than doing sports in schools. You have to train the bird by yourself. Then you have a connection," said Sultan who named his winning falcon 'Rashid' after his younger brother.

Mubarak Rashed Saeed Al Kindi who won the Tabaa Wahish Car and Jeer Tabaa Cash events said he was pleased to continue a family tradition. "My brothers helped me to win. This is not the first time I'm winning. I have won titles every year that I participated," he said.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 28, 2018
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