Review: BSME U15 Games 2018

Exactly one week ago, teams from across the Gulf and beyond were catching their breath after a stunning opening to the 2018 U15 BSME Games. British School Al Khubairat were the overall champions to record an incredible third successive victory. However, youth sport was definitely the biggest winner and GYS was there to capture it all.

Teams descended from far and wide to Cranleigh in Abu Dhabi, to take part in the prestigious sporting event. There is a 3500 kilometre stretch between Cairo in Egypt and Muscat in Oman, but that didn’t stop those schools from coming together and meeting others from Dubai, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the sporting arena. Not forgetting a strong presence from the host city, Abu Dhabi, with no less than five school’s representing UAE’s capital.

The full list of competing schools was as follows: 
British School Muscat, Oman
Cairo English School
Kuwait English School
British International School Abu Dhabi
British School Al Khubairat
British International School Jeddah, KSA
British School Kuwait
St Christopher's School, Bahrain
Brighton College Abu Dhabi
British International School Cairo, Egypt
Kings' School Al Barsha
Al Yasmina Academy
Cranleigh Abu Dhabi

From the moment teams took their first steps into the grand hall at New York University for the opening ceremony, you could sense that a fantastic three days of sport was forthcoming. Cranleigh’s principal Michael Wilson welcomed the visiting schools and without much further ado, teams were warming up and ready for action.

The overall games consisted of three different events for both boys and girls. Both participated in athletics and football, whereas boys completed the set with volleyball and girls with netball. Whilst there was a massive haul of medals and placings up for grabs, the format was a simple yet exciting and inclusive one. For every event, schools were ranked from 1st to 13th. The winning school taking a maximum 13 points onto the leaderboard, second place taking 12 and so on. This meant every school had 78 placing points to play for and every single kick of the ball or dash to the line mattered. 

Day one saw the girls take to the football field and the boys visit the volleyball court. One of the early talking points was the impressive start made by British International School Jeddah. A delayed flight meant the visitors from Saudi Arabia had only slept for two hours, yet they were in great form in both events right from the first ball.

As the day progressed, teams navigated their way through the groups and into the knockout stages. In the volleyball tournament, it was the British International School Cairo that prevailed over Brighton College Abu Dhabi in the final, with Kuwait English School finishing in third and also claiming a medal. The final was a thrilling encounter with the Egyptian visitors coming back from a set down against the local school. 

As for the girls; it was St Christopher’s School Bahrain that took football glory ahead of British International School Jeddah, with Kings’ School Al Barsha taking third spot. The sides were deadlocked at the end of regulation time but a stunning strike from Naefa in extra-time was the difference.

Day two was the highly anticipated athletics meet. There were no less than sixty-six medals up for grabs in a marathon day containing twenty-two events between track and field. 

Ines Charvet of British International School Abu Dhabi, David Mayne of Brighton College and Neve Woodward of British School Al Khubairat were amongst the day’s star performers. Christian Perry also stole the headlines with a heart-warming tale of a gold medal after so many near misses.

A BSME tradition is to not reveal the overall standings moving into the final day. It keeps the teams in suspense for that magical moment when the champions are crowned. However, we can now look back on Friday’s top three overall performers. British School Al Khubairat came out on top, with British International School Jeddah taking silver and Brighton College bronze.

With so many teams proud of their performances in day two, it set the stage for a thrilling final day of action on Saturday. Boys football provided an epic finishing event, as did girls’ netball.

After the initial group stages, teams were divided into three sets of semi-finals, with 9th, 5th and 1st place at stake for the team within the quartet that won both matches. In the girl’s netball Kings Al Barsha beat CAD for top spot. In the boys’ football British School Al Khubairat beat British International School Jeddah in a top class final.

This brought an end to the sporting activities but grand finalé was still to come. The Gala Dinner at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi was a magnificent end to three memorable days. Athletes, coaches and officials mixed, to exchange stories and create new friendships. There was also the small matter of the final awards ceremony. After the individual competition trophies and medals had been presented, it was onto the main event. After cheers and applause for each of the schools, it came down to the final three. Brighton College bagged bronze, British International School Jeddah seized silver and the biggest cheer of the night came for British School Al Khubairat, the overall U15 BSME Games winners.

The celebrations went on into the night, but all good things have to come to an end. The sun finally set on the 2018 BSME U15 Games, but the memories won’t be fading any time soon.