As part of the GEMS Sports Series, 637 students across GEMS Education schools in the UAE and Nairobi participated in the third edition of the GEMS Swim Cup in Dubai.
Held at the Hamdan Sport Complex, it was the first time that GEMS Sports Series hosted international students where 24 pupils from the Cambridge International School, Nairobi competed.
Among the winners was Marwan Kashkoush. The 13-year-old student won the 50m freestyle and was delighted to stand top of the podium. “I was really excited to win gold in the freestyle 50m,” he said. “I have won medals at international events and this felt just as good as they did.”
The GEMS Wellington Academy pupil added: “I love the fact that some strong teams like Jumeriah College and Wellington International School compete against us. The Nairobi school was a great addition and I hope to see many more schools at next year’s event. This one of our favourite events in the season.”
Anna Thompson was the girls winner of the competition and the seven-year-old was happy to reign supreme.
“I am super proud and great achievement for me,” she said. “Everyone tried to do their best. The competition can only be good for my development as there were so many swimmers from different schools. It’s given me an insight on what I can aim for.”
Thirty schools across the UAE will begin their battle for supremacy in a much-changed Maxtalent Global Sports’ Vision Cup, which begins on Monday.
Now in its 12th edition, the competition has gone from strength to strength, giving budding cricketers an opportunity to showcase their skills for their schools.
The girls’ event was a huge success with eight sides competing and organisers are expecting stern competition in the boys’ category with 30 schools in the fray.
Titles will be decided in the Under-12, U-14, U-16 and 16 and above with games played at Skyline University.
In order to promote the game and help the player’s development, there will be a major change to the rules with all 14 squad players featuring in a match.
Sudhakar Shetty, head coach of Maxtalent Global Sports, said: “When a team wins the toss, the batting team can select their strongest batting line-up and in the second innings, three batsmen will be replaced by specialist bowlers. This means all players will participate in the match.”
Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar put the idea forward last year and Shetty put it to the experiment in their Mumbai tour.
“We think this will be a great idea as the standard of play will increase and there will be more opportunities for players to play,” he said.
A brace from Honey Vastenholt-Lewis ensured British School of Al Khubairat (BSAK) retained the Varsity trophy after the girls’ side comfortably beat Brighton College Abu Dhabi 5-1 at Zayed Sports City.
The annual match, which is now in its third edition, saw the schools’ Under-19 boys and girls’ teams battle for glory at the National Stadium in the capital.
Previous meetings this season between the boys’ teams have been closely-fought and their latest encounters have been no different. With the format of the event working on an aggregate score from both games, there was plenty to play for.
The boys played out a 1-1 draw with Jake Milton opening the scoring for BSAK before Brighton equalised just before the break. The score remained the same despite both sides going close.
The result meant the winner of the girls’ match would clinch the Varsity Cup and Brighton made a quick start to the game by taking an early lead.
BSAK gradually found their game and was rewarded when Nour El Attar headed home the leveller. BSAK then took the lead through Libbi Murphy before Caitlin Heyes made it 3-1 at half-time.
In the second half, BSAK continued to gather momentum and were celebrating again when Vastenholt-Lewis capped a smart move to make it 4-1, before completing her double with a stunning free-kick to win 5-1.
The aggregate scores finished 6-2, meaning BSAK retained the Varsity trophy for the third time and their head of football Robert Kirkland lauded both set of players.
He said: “The Varsity is always a fantastic curtain raiser to the football season here in Abu Dhabi and what a spectacular setting to play the final game.
“The boys, who won the treble this season with the League, Cup and BSAK 7s were unlucky not to win their match outright, but in the end had to rely on the girls convincing victory to win the overall shield. The girls showed their class, scoring some great goals in the National Stadium, that was graced by Real Madrid only a few months before.”