They listened to their dad carefully before taking their bikes out of the trailer attached to the family’s 4WD vehicle. “You have to be careful at the turns, else you will fall down,” their father warned. Hood and Faisal nodded in agreement.
The duo began putting on their protective gear — long sleeve shirts, gloves, body armour, and thick boots — which gave them a serious look that contrasted sharply with the boyish innocence of the young pair. Hood is just 14 years old and Faisal is only 10. Suited-up and ready to go, mannerisms, they waved excitedly to their father, Salim Al Busaidi, before heading to the starting gate of the motocross arena at the Oman Automobile Association (OAA), where the young brothers have already begun to make their name on the regional motocross scene.
Salim brought his boys to the motocross arena for the first time in 2014, and Hood and Faisal were hooked after their first ride. “I was so passionate about motorcycles when I was a child, but I couldn’t fulfil my ambition,” Salim explained as he watched the boys. “So, when my children fell in love with bikes, I didn’t stop them. Instead, I bought them 50cc bikes and took them to practice sessions. The domestic competition was on at that time, and the organisers allowed the talented youngsters to participate in two rounds.
Twelve years old, at the time, Hood took part in junior category, while eight-year-old Faisal competed in the PeeWee section (a category for children between 6 and 8 years).”
To everyone’s amazement, the new riders won several of their rounds. The siblings didn’t hesitate to enter the next domestic season that began a couple of months later.
In preparation for the competition, the boys became members of the Jebel Ali Motocross Arena in Dubai to sharpen their skills. “I took them to Dubai for training and competition whenever I got time. The fight is tough in Dubai and I think it helped them understand their weak areas,” Salim said.
The youngsters are now training under renowned motocross champion, Ben Menzies, who is based in the United Arab Emirates. And Ben has high hopes for his wards. “When I met them last year, the first thing I taught them was to shift the gear. From then on, they showed tremendous improvement. They are very talented. I am happy that they are following my instructions,” said Ben.
According to Ben, the duo’s calibre is evident from their progress. “Within a year after their start, they are in the mid-pack. They will take one more year to become professionals. But I can see them reaching there. They are focussed and wanted to do it. And their dad is very supportive.”
“My aim is to become a champion rider of the Gulf region,” Hood said, as his brother cut in. “I discuss the difficulties during trainings and competitions with my brother. We support each other to realise our dreams. But, I love to compete with Hood during training sessions ... even though I haven’t been able to beat him so far,” Faisal said.
Hood and Faisal have a busy schedule like their peers. They have to attend the school, tuition and Holy Quran classes. “Motocross is just one of their activities. I never forced them to concentrate on motorsport. So whenever they feel like riding, I take them to the track,” said Salim. The pair train only when their father, who works with the Petroleum Development of Oman, is around. Otherwise, they spend their time pursuing their passion for sports with games of football with their friends.
“I am very much concerned about their safety. So I inspect their bikes thoroughly before practice sessions and competitions. Besides, I ensure that the boys have put on the safety gears, including the overall, boots, elbow support, neck support, chest protector and goggles, properly. It is a dangerous sport and riders should always use protective paraphernalia,” Salim explained. “We will focus on their physical fitness during the summer holidays. I will hire someone to train them in jogging and cycling.”
After the boys began to win titles, they were surprised by the attention they started to get at school. “After each title win, my friends used to ask me questions about biking. They knew about my success through newspapers. But I used to dodge their questions by saying it was my brother who won the trophy,” Faisal laughed. But, Faisal was quick to point out that they didn’t fall in love with the sport for the praise or attention, but for the challenge of this intensive sport, and for the way he feels it has made them stronger in every aspect of their lives.
“A rider should never lose his focus,” Faisal explained, “he has to do calculations during the jump and while negotiating the turns. It makes us tough physically and mentally.” —[email protected]
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