The British School Al Khubairat and Dubai College are used to battling it out at the top of the leader board here in the UAE, but how would they fair if the rest of the world were invited to the party?
As it happens, pretty well.
After three days of intense competition at the recent COBIS Games (a multi-sport competition for British curriculum schools from around the world) in Sheffield, the two teams found themselves on top of the pile, deadlocked in a tie for first place.
With a host of European power-houses, as well as teams from as far afield as Hong Kong and Kazakhstan, the fact that both schools dominated the event suggests the UAE is getting it very right when it comes to school sport. We caught up with BSAK Director of Sport, Jonny Coombs, and Head of Academic PE at Dubai College, Lydia Clohesy, to get their thoughts on their teams' achievements, and what these results say about the state of school sport in the UAE.
Coombs, whose team clinched the trophy for the third year running thanks to overall victories in both the swimming and football competitions, was delighted with his squad.
"The team exceeded expectations. After five months of training all of the students were working towards individualised targets and PBs during the event with almost all of the squad excelling in these targets. As a school to retain the trophy for a third year is a huge honour and has made our community extremely proud."
Clohesy was equally as impressed with her teams’ efforts, as well as their demonstrations of sportsmanship.
“The students’ commitment to training in preparation for the Games was awesome, and all their hard work has certainly paid off. It was wonderful to see so many of our students achieving outstanding results, while supporting and cheering for other students beyond their own teammates.”
When asked what these results say about the depth of talent and quality of school sport within the UAE, Coombs was in no doubt.
"The UAE schools led the way in all of the COBIS competitions across the weekend which shows the quality of domestic tournaments the students are competing in on a daily and weekly basis in both ADISSA and DASSA.
The quality of teams within the region is extremely high, and alongside the international tournaments, there is as much pride in winning some of the key local competitions, such as the Dubai 7s, BSAK tournaments, DASSA/ADISSA Swim Championships. The quality and depth of competition results in better athletes, which is fantastic for the region."
DC’s Clohesy echoed Coombs’ sentiments around the quality of school sport in the UAE, and also lauded praise on her school’s B team, who defied the odds to finish fifth overall out of 23 teams.
“To have two UAE teams share the overall prize showcases the strength and quality of sporting provision in schools across the UAE. It is thrilling to see all three UAE teams finish in the top 5 of the competition, with our B team finishing 5th out of 23 schools from across the world. It’s a true demonstration of how deep the talent pool for sport is in this country.”
Well done to both schools from everyone here at Gulf Youth Sport for representing our region so proudly; time for some well-earned rest over summer!!