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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Meet Qatar’s ‘inclusive’ skating community

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Roller blading, or skating, has become increasingly popular in Qatar as residents seek a fun and interactive way to keep fit – all while social distancing. Doha News speaks to coach Ahmed Alghorab about the community he has created.

If you have spent any time wondering around Lusail Marina, you may have noticed a number of roller skaters joyfully whizzing around. The spacious marina and stunning backdrop creates a perfect and well-lit scenic route for skaters to enjoy this fun and increasingly popular activity. Highly skilled skater and coach Ahmed Alghorab has become the pied piper of skating of sorts -picking up enthusiasts along the way as he encourages lone skaters to join his vibrant community.

Roller blading can often be thought of as seemingly intimidating, especially when skaters are performing tricks and stunts. Ahmed and the more advanced members of the group regularly showcase their impressive skills to provide inspiration and excitement for those watching in awe.

 

What stands out the most about this group is its sense of inclusivity and community.

Coach Ahmed doesn’t charge for these lessons and says he willingly gives his time to whoever wishes to join in.

“I teach all kinds of people, of all ages, genders and nationalities. It doesn’t matter if you have never skated before in your life, everyone is welcome. This is a safe space for all to practice and learn together” Ahmed told Doha News.

There are now a variety of  locations in Doha that are skater-friendly, and with more people preferring to engage in outdoor sports activities as the climate cools, skating provides a perfect opportunity to exercise with others while keeping maintaining precautionary measures.

Read also: The Parkour Pioneers of Qatar

There are many health benefits associated with roller blading. Helena, a new but not frequent skater in Lusail, quickly became a fan of the sport.

“Roller blading is amazing for muscle strengthening and toning, plus you burn a lot of calories yet it doesn’t even feel like exercising because it’s so much fun!”

As Doha News spoke with coach Ahmed, the conversation was interrupted by a father and his two young daughters. The girls were on roller skates but were having trouble stopping and turning in them. The father saw Ahmed teaching other young children and rushed to ask if his girls could join in also.

“When people approach me mid-skate, we exchange numbers and I add them to a skating group where I provide all information about where I will be skating and at what time. That way, they can come and meet me whenever it suits them and at their leisure. When children train with me consistently, within a couple of weeks you can notice a significant  difference,” Ahmed proudly states.

David, a lawyer who works in West Bay said “After a long day at work you can just put your skates on and almost instantly feel better – it’s so therapeutic. My day job is stressful but when I start gliding I just feel lighter and free. I enjoy that you can skate as part of a group and have the option to choose to follow closely or trail behind at your own pace. It can be a very personal experience at the same time”.

 

To be a good teacher, you must have a considerable amount of patience. Ahmed helps his students perfect moves one step at a time until they gain confidence. In order to improve, one must be prepared to fail and fall, he says.

“Skating is not something that you can perfect overnight. You have to take it slow and practice regularly repeating the same moves over and over again and eventually it will come,” says Ahmed.

Coach Ahmed can be found in Lusail every day (except Saturdays) from 5pm.

The inclusivity and high spirit of the group regularly draws peoples’ attention, especially when the sportsmanship is put on show. In Ahmed’s group, those who fall or stumble are always supported by a helping hand close by.

“I created the group just one year ago. I usually find I’m teaching around 20 people a session but the community as a whole has reached over 100 people! Next week myself and our rollerblading community will be skating around the city using Doha’s accessible routes as a group,” he says, noting last year’s event was hugely successful.

This year Ahmed hopes to rally together an even bigger crowd.

Would you or your friends, children like to learn how to skate with an enthusiastic group of  skaters? If so, why not check out coach Ahmed’s instagram skating page and give it a go.


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