The American University in Dubai hosted the annual School Sports Challenge in hopes of recruiting a high school student for a sports scholarship opportunity last Friday.
“Many schools around UAE joined and around 3,000 students attended,” said the student activities coordinator, Sana Nader.
She explained that the School Sports Challenge is part of AUD’s marketing strategy. “We consider it as an open day,” she continued.
The university’s Instagram account, @audubai, covered the event to further publicise it. The account has over 7,000 followers.
When asked about the sports offered, Nader said “everything.” From running to swimming, and football to basketball, students could display their skills at any of their preferred sport.
Typically, the schools get to compete and rank in all sports categories but only one institution gets to be the overall winner. AUD offers the scholarship to a star athlete student picked by the winning school. This year, Bradenton Preparatory Academy grabbed the scholarship award.
“It was my first time competing in the school sports challenge and I loved the experience here,” said Maya, student from Nibras International School. “Basketball was my favourite activity,” she continued.
Besides the scholarship, there were also other prizes given through the day. The university organized a raffle to give attendees a chance to win a few gifts from sponsors including iPhones, vouchers, and speakers. Additionally, there was a special prize for coaches, which was a return flight to Europe, according to Rohan Healy, an AUD student volunteer.
Healy praised the fact that the event allows students to compete against unfamiliar people. “It pushes students to perform their best”, he said. “They were all enthusiastic. I didn’t see anybody lazing around,” he added.
Participants were huddled between events, planning and practicing for their next matches. The teamwork spirit was felt all around despite the high stakes.
The event coincides with UAE’s strategies to achieve Sheikh Zayed’s vision. There have been many incentives organised to improve the involvement of residents and citizens in sports, and the School Sports Challenge can be categorised as one of them.
Healy said “it was an impressive show all around.”
Photo credit: Dina Fayad