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Children in Bahrain could be on the road to a racing future after a karting extravaganza was staged for students representing five of the kingdom’s schools in an exciting inaugural track event.
Seen as the gateway to Formula One and other motor sport series, karting provides a competitive foundation in close-quarters racing.
‘Karting 4 Schools’, which took place at the karting track at the Bahrain International Circuit last weekend, witnessed students from the schools put into 12 teams. Participating schools included St Christopher’s School, Bahrain Bayan School, Ibn Khuldoon National School, Bahrain School and Hawar International School.
The teams competed in an hour-long endurance challenge, where drivers came into the pits at regular intervals to give them a more authentic F1 feel.
The genesis of the programme came from Hamad Behzad, a Bahraini who studied at St Christopher’s before pursuing a BA in Management at Regent’s University London and then a Masters in the Political Economy of the Middle East at King’s College London. He is currently in the process of doing a PhD at Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh related to real estate and economics.
Behzad said: “Karting 4 Schools is an inter-schools friendly team-building activity that I started this year. Initially my idea was to establish a business that organises sports for corporate companies. It then evolved into catering to schools and universities, therefore reaching all three platforms.
“I had this idea back in 2013 when I was studying in London. I was ready to start with some initial capital that I had accumulated over the years. However, to get commercial registration I needed an office and the rental prices were far too extortionate for a young entrepreneur starting out.
“I decided to shelve the idea for a few years and focus on my education. As soon as I returned to Bahrain, I decided to register my business, and after a little bit of luck, I got the approval to go forward with it.”
Behzad’s main goal is to promote grassroots motorsport within the kingdom and the wider region. He wants to provide a platform for students to fall in love with the sport and progress through the ranks, hopefully ending with the region’s first representative in F1, the sport’s pinnacle.
Furthermore, Behzad wants to bring people together and connect on a social level. His next target is to contact more schools and expand the programme across the Gulf, ultimately joining students, circuits and sponsors together and drive participation forward.
However, he remains adamant that Bahrain is the best place to nurture talent. He said: “We are operating in Bahrain as the Bahrain International Karting Circuit is far more advanced than some of the local tracks around the GCC.
“I witnessed an incredible amount of talent on the track on Friday, so I hope the students carry on this passion to carry on going down to the BIKC and pursuing their dreams. Youngsters need to swim in the small pool in preparation for the big ocean of international competition, if you will!
“Aside from the competitive side of things, I’m so pleased that the concept allowed students from different schools to interact and network, which I hope will improve their confidence.
“My favourite moment of the weekend was when I saw a teacher from one school in the photo of another school’s group photo such was the comradery. Seeing all the schools being integrated was incredibly rewarding.”