The Dubai Educational Zone was declared overall champion at the end of the second UAE School Olympic Games that concluded at Al Wasl Club at the weekend.
Always in the lead on the opening two days of the competition, Dubai ended its campaign as hosts with a total of 46 medals to win the title.
In second place was the Sharjah Educational Zone with 16 medals including eight gold, eight silver and six bronze medals.
Last year’s champions Fujairah tried their best to challenge on the final day picking up five gold, three silver and eight bronze medals, but they could only finish in third overall with a total of 27 medals.
The event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE National Olympic Committee, who presented the winners with medals and cash awards.
Nearly 1,100 students quali fied to the finals of this six-sport disciplines competition, which is held every year.
The Future Champions League tournament concluded on the weekend with the national finals at Dubai Sports City Football Academy.
The finals featured 24 teams comprising players from schools all over the UAE who competed in U12s, U14s and U16s categories.
Approximately 100 teams played in the qualification stage at Arabian Gulf League clubs, before being whittled down to the 24 finalists.
While Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) were the title sponsors, the Pro League Committee, Dubai Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Sports Council supported the tournament.
“It has been wonderful this year to see so many children from across the UAE taking part in the ADIB Future Champions League,” said Petr Klimes, executive vice president and group marketing director at ADIB.
“Through this initiative, ADIB continues to show its commitment to the youth of this country, helping their development, and promoting an active and healthy lifestyle through football.”
Abu Dhabi’s Private Modern School took home the U16 title while both the top honours in the U14 and U12 groups were claimed by International Academic School (IAS) from Abu Dhabi.
All team members received free ADIB kits, a bank account with zero balance, a Darhoom card and a bonus of Dh50 upon opening the account.
The event also offered free popcorn, cotton candy, lunches and other refreshments, while games booths were also set up adding to the festive atmosphere which provided a fun environment for the children.
Most importantly, the tournament gave kids a chance to showcase their skills in a competitive youth tournament which brought schools from across the UAE together.
“The children just love playing in competitions such as this, and I would encourage other schools to get involved next year to help make this excellent tournament even bigger and better,” said Ken Barker, athletic director of GEMS World Academy, Dubai.
Already in its third year, the league has been hugely successful and will likely expand to include even more schools in the future.
In a first-of-its-kind in the UAE, GEMS Education has launched its new sports academy in Dubai with registration now open to Year XII students (age 16) for the new academic year beginning in September.
GEMS Sports Academy will offer coaching and training in a wide range of sports, including football, swimming, tennis, golf and basketball.
Students, who feel they have a level of competence in any sporting discipline, are being encouraged to enquire about the admission process.
With the sports academy still under construction, classes will be based at the GEMS Wellington Academy’s Silicon Oasis campus and other specialist facilities across Dubai.
Students will be studying towards an International Baccalaureate (IB) qualification (over two years) and learn different aspects of sports as well as develop key skills that will help them in every day life.
The demanding IB diploma programme will include mandatory and optional modules, which includes areas of study such as physiology, leadership, fitness testing and sports nutrition.
Students will need to pass written and theory examinations to obtain the qualification that is widely recognised around the world.
James Tucker, sports director at GEMS Sports Academy, said: “Among the things the students will get to learn are how the body works and the scientific elements of sports and nutrition.
“The GEMS Sports Academy will fill a need felt by parents in the UAE. They have told us that there are limited education options; this will allow them the flexibility to commit to specific sports training, while still continuing to receive high quality education.”
Tucker believes the sports academy will act as a platform for students if they want a university course programme in a sporting college outside the UAE, saying there’s every possibility that a student can become a future star.
“Living in the Middle East should not prevent our young people from pursuing their sporting dreams and performing at a world-class level,” says Tucker.
“With the highest level of sports training and provision, there is no reason why they cannot be the next Serena Williams, Ian Thorpe or David Beckham.
“In the past, it has been a major sacrifice to defer education or send your child abroad to progress their sports training.
“Now, that highest calibre provision will be accessible on our doorstep.”
Previously a director of education at Bolton Wanderers Football Club in England, Tucker is optimistic of achieving positive results.
“I designed similar programmes in the UK and went through a similar model. I’ve been through the journey and you can say I have personal connection to it. The value of a IB qualification is very high and I’ve seen people have gone to the US to play sports.
“There is really nothing like this in the whole of the Middle East. Essentially, at the end of these two years the students will be in the best shape of their life.”
Admissions for September’s intake is for Year XII students, while Years 10 and 11 will begin in 2015-16.
As well as taking regular IB exams, students will be assessed on how they meet their goals.
"We want to build on the reputation of the academy and our long-term vision is to start branches abroad – in Singapore, Paris and maybe one in the US,” said Tucker.
What: GEMS Sports Academy intake for September 2014 for Year XII students.
Where: GEMS Wellington Academy’s Silicon Oasis campus and other specialist sporting facilities across Dubai.
When: For September 2014 intake.