As school sport makes a return in Dubai young athletes can, at long last, look ahead to taking part in sports events with their friends and classmates once again.
The World School Games attracts some of the very best young sportspeople from across the globe for three days of competitive sport and it’s set to make a return next month after a forced postponement in 2021 due to Covid-19.
The Dubai event is expected to welcome over 900 student athletes laying it all on the line as they bid to be crowned World Champions in March.
After a two-year hiatus, the 2022 edition is set to showcase lots of exciting new features, with a brand-new age division, a change of venue, and new disciplines in both athletics and swimming.
Event Director Andrew Cook explained more about the changes at this year’s World School Games, including the addition of a U15 age group for the very first time.
“The coaches have been asking for years to introduce the Under-15 division. Many of these kids will have their sights set on athletic scholarships or careers in sport, so the opportunity to compete on the international stage is priceless for them; we can’t wait to see them perform.
“The additional age-group means we’ll have more teams and athletes on site than ever before, which should make for an incredible atmosphere.
“It also presents a few logistical challenges, but after two years without WSG we’re relishing each and every headache that comes our way and we cannot wait for everyone to experience the buzz and excitement of international competition once again.”
The three-day festival of sport will kick off with a welcome evening on Wednesday 9th March at the Occidental Hotel’s rooftop bar, with school staff members invited to get to know each other before the competition gets underway.
This year’s event will also see the inclusion of some new events on the track, field and in the pool, giving students the opportunity to test themselves in even more disciplines.
Cook said: “Evolving and innovating is absolutely central to the World School Games. We will always endeavour to push the athletes and coaches out of their comfort zones, as we believe this is where true growth and development occurs.”
“New for the 2022 edition of WSG are hurdles and discus on the track and field as well as the Individual Medley in the swimming pool.
“The new events are great to watch, but very demanding. In particular, the hurdles is an extremely technical race and will reward those who have put in the hard yards over the winter season.”
Cook explained that with an expansion in the number of squads taking part in this year’s event comes some logistical considerations, including a new venue for part of the weekend.
“An increase in teams has seen us move the football event from Dubai Sports City to the lush grass fields of The Sevens Stadium.
“Anyone who has been to The Sevens knows that the grass pitches there are world class. Football takes place on the third and final day this year, and with so much at stake we’re pretty sure the atmosphere is going to be absolutely electric come the latter stages of the competition.
“Immediately after the football tournament we’ll have the Gala Dinner and overall Awards ceremony. All being well the awards ceremony will kick off just as the sun sets, giving the awards ceremony a truly special look and feel.”
Running alongside the World School Games is of course Expo 2020, Dubai’s six month long showcase of the very best humanity has to offer. With countries from across the globe represented at Expo 2020 it’s a perfect match while the Games are in town.
Cook said: “No event could be more tailor-made for the World School Games than Expo 2020 – a truly global experience. Travelling teams will have the opportunity to take a VIP guided tour of visit their country’s pavilion, as well as taking in the best of the action at the awe-inspiring Expo site.”
The World School Games takes place from Thursday 10th – Saturday 12th March 2022. To find out more about the event, visit the World School Games Event Series website here.