You couldn’t blame the pupils for being starstruck when India international Ravichandran Ashwin visited three Kings’ Schools in Dubai last week.
The 31-year-old spin master took time out from his busy schedule to fly into the UAE and interact with kids at the three campuses of the school’s network – Kings’ School Dubai, Nad Al Sheba and Al Barsha on Thursday.
It was part of his visit to the Emirate where he launched his new academy – the Gen-Next Kings’ Cricket Academy.
The institution, which has seen Ashwin’s Chennai-based Gen-Next Cricket Academy and Kings’ Schools join hands, has already been training the stars of tomorrow since the new term began on September 15.
Ashwin got a first-hand look of the fantastic facilities that the schools boast and having posed for pictures with pupils, the 2011 World Cup winner passed on his knowledge to 55 budding cricketers at the academy, based in the Al Barsha campus.
Sanjay Ramesh is no stranger to picking the brains of Ashwin. The 15-year-old has travelled twice to Chennai to train at his academy and believes his latest session with the Indian star will help him step up his game.
“I have trained with Gen-Next and Ashwin a couple of times before,” he said. “I was very excited to see him today. My experience in the indoor nets and his motivational speech was very inspiring and his tips on drills made me realise the importance of fitness on the sports field. I am looking forward to train under such a great legend many more times.”
Sami Khan said he was taken by surprise when Ashwin gave tips on how to be effective behind the stumps.
“It was a huge and pleasant surprise when Ashwin began to give me one-on-one wicket-keeping coaching,” said the 11-year-old.
“His drills were different to anything I have been taught before. He gave me great encouragement and I felt an immediate improvement in my glove work.”
Kobus Olivier, director of the academy, said it was an experience the kids will never forget.
“It was a dream come true for our boys today,” said Olivier, who is a Level 3 coach and former CEO of Kenya Cricket.
“Our High Performance Programme boys faced Ashwin in the bowling nets for a full session while he took them through his unique fielding drills and shared his experience with them. A genuine masterclass by one of the best cricketers in world cricket.
“Gen-Next Kings cricket academy is truly setting the benchmark for cricket academies in Dubai.”
Nord Anglia International School (NAS) Dubai have gone into the new sports season with high expectations and big sporting plans for the year ahead.
Now in its fourth year of operation, the school has built a reputation for their sporting excellence with their outstanding facilities and opportunities, leading the way for their pupils to impress in various regional and international competitions.
This year, the school will compete in the Dubai Affiliated Primary School Sports Association (DAPSA) leagues and the Dubai Affiliated School Sports Association (DASSA) for the older kids.
That will see them take part in competitive fixtures in a wide range of sports including rugby, netball, football, basketball and cross-country, against schools in Dubai.
Among the key upcoming tournaments on their calendar is the British Schools’ Middle East (BSME) tournament, where their football and netball teams will test themselves against the region’s and international’s best.
With NAS Dubai’s admission numbers increasing for this academic year, the demand for sport has become even bigger and the now are now looking to enhance their state-of-the-art sporting facilities.
Before the new season got underway last week, there was no shortage of numbers for the trials. Alex Collin, head of PE at NAS Dubai, says he is looking forward to overseeing the sporting activities.
“We are extremely excited about the term ahead here at NAS Dubai,” he said.
“It was great to see so many children attending the recent sports trials. We believe that every pupil should be given the opportunity to achieve their potential. We will seek to ensure that pupils of all abilities are encouraged to be the best they possibly can be. By this rationale, the department believes that both Sport for All and Elite sporting performance can flourish side by side.”
Raha International School began their swimming season on a high, by making a big splash last week with two podium finishes.
The institution hosted the first Abu Dhabi International Schools Sports Association (ADISSA) Primary gala where they finished runners-up behind Al Muna in four-team tournament.
But the Abu Dhabi-based school went one step further 24 hours later by topping the Secondary competition.
Among those to impress were Natalie Heinser-Berke. Competing in the 16+ girls’ age group, she won a rich haul of medals, winning the 200m individual medley, 50m backstroke and 50m butterfly.
Chayton Small achieved the same feat by winning the 50m freestyle in the U-12 category, while Jamie
Wesely Vanderputten followed suit by claiming gold in the U-12 boys’ 50m backstroke.
There was more reason for the school to celebrate with their U-14 boys’ relay teams winning both the medley and freestyle in the 200m distance.
Sean Brett, coach of Arabian Swim Academy, lauded the efforts of the Raha swimmers.
“This has laid a great platform for the season ahead, giving the swimmers confidence and proving that their hard work and dedication has paid off,” he said.