Mankotia noted that over the years there is remarkable improvement in confidence and fitness level of kids.
Every evening, Abu Dhabi-based engineer Vinod Mankotia conducts fitness sessions for some 35-40 kids, including children of determination, in the Mussafah industrial area. It’s a free one-hour coaching. In his words, a ‘community service’ he is doing after his work hours to create a healthy generation in the UAE.
“In 2012, my seven-year-old son weighed 62kg. It rang alarm bells. Doctors told that my son was on the borderline of many health risks. Both my kids were attached to gadgets. I replaced video game console with a football and took them to ground. The new regime was difficult for him to adopt but soon, fitness became a habit. And in a year, his weight was down by 10kg. In due course, more parents who saw us at ground regularly joined in. Today, I have between 35 and 40 kids. My aim is to tackle obesity, overweight and lifestyle issues, which is prevalent in the UAE,” the 46-year-old Indian expat said.
Mankotia winds up daily work in the city by 5pm and picks up kids, who can’t come regularly as their parents are busy, on his way to the ground in Shabia 12.
“I don’t want them to miss even a single day – be it a festival day. We start at 6pm and continue till 7.15pm. We use the parking lot to do the warm-up and ground to play football and volleyball. I am not a trained coach and took lessons from coaches of sports academy and football team. Every month, we have matches against academies and my kids have won many matches. One of my boys has already joined Bani Yas Under-16 squad. My girls did well in the UAE cluster CBSE football tournament.”
Mankotia noted that over the years there is remarkable improvement in confidence and fitness level of kids. “Flat life is very damaging for kids. There was a child who used to talk to himself even when he was in a crowd. He joined us and is normal now.”
Jagmohan Jairath Lucky, a parent, said it’s not just his kids but even a special child is part of the sessions.
“My obese son has shed weight. I have now shifted home to be near to the ground. I found my neighbour has a special needs child. I take him to the ground. Now, he is like any other child,” Lucky said.
Mankotia hopes more people drive their kids to grounds in a bid to make a healthy UAE.
“Let’s go out and play.”
Four things to do
1-Free adult swimming
Where: Elite Sports Academy
When: 6pm to 7pm
2-High ropes obstacle curse
Where: Extreme & Adventure Aventura Parks, Mushrif
When: 9am to 12 noon
Where: Kite Beach
When: 11am to 12 noon
Where: 906 Onyx Tower 1, Greens and Views
When: 5.30pm to 6pm
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