There was no shortage of numbers at the annual BSAK 7s as more than 800 aspiring rugby players took to the field in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
Teams from Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt, as well as the UAE, made their way to the capital for the two-day event, which began at the British School of Al Khubairat on Thursday before ending at Zayed Sports City a day later.
The boys’ competition saw trophies up for grabs in the Under-11, U12, U13, U14, U16 and U19 categories while girls’ competition included U14 and U19 touch events.
Just like in the previous editions, the event showcased the best rugby talent not just in the country but from across the region with some thrilling matches across both days.
In Dubai College’s case, they saw their U12s clinch the victors’ trophy before their U19 sides in both the boys’ and girls’ events reigned supreme.
Their U19 boys’ side had to overcome a stern test against hosts BSAK but Dubai College captain Oliver Tait says the triumph will give them a lot of confidence going into next month’s Dubai Sevens.
“We prepared long and hard for this and we had gone on tour to Sri Lanka to get ready for a busy season,” said the 18-year-old prop. “We were pushed all the way and hopefully we can bring the Dubai Sevens title back to Dubai College – where it belongs.”
Their neighbours Dubai English Speaking College (DESC) made the trip back to the emirate with two titles in the boys categories. Their A side came out on top in the U16 competition with the same result achieved in the U14s.
Thanks to @BSAKsports for another superb tournament. Congratulations D.C. U19s for their outstanding efforts and endeavour throughout the day!#TeamDC@GulfYouthSport @Sport360 @KHDA @kukrisportsme
— DC Sport (@DCol_Sport) November 10, 2017
DESC U16 skipper Alistair Hess is now hoping to force his way into the team’s Dubai Sevens squad and admitted there were no easy games in the capital.
“It’s an amazing tournament. All the teams were tough,” said the fly-half. “Even in the group stage it was hard and we’re really proud to get this win for the school.”
Matt Thomas, head of rugby at BSAK, was thoroughly impressed with the talent he saw in all of the categories.
“The standard of rugby over the two days has been absolutely second to none,” he said.
“It’s been a real showcase of the playing abilities in the Middle East and UAE and superb rugby all round.
“This is the stepping stone for schools to sharpen their tools for the Dubai Sevens.
“Each team will be building towards that over the next couple of weeks. And the BSAK 7s is a great place to start and get better and ready for that tournament.”
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.”