GEMS creates UAE’s first ever school of sport

Denzil Pinto 25/05/2014
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Grand designs: How the GEMS Sports Academy will look on completion.

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.
Contact: www.gemssportsacademy.co

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Dubai Educational in the Zone at UAE School Olympic Games

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On target: One of the goals of the annual school games is to spot potential talent.

The Dubai Educational Zone consolidated their position at the top of the standings on day two of the 2nd UAE School Olympic Games, taking their medals tally to 37.

The finals this year are being held simultaneously at the Dubai Police Officers Club and Al Wasl Club. Given Dubai’s dominant position, the emirate is expected to walk away with the Dh50,000 cash prize.

Dubai’s female athletes were in good form last Friday, finishing the day with 13 gold, 15 silver and nine bronze medals in the swimming, archery, gymnastics and shooting competitions.

The emirate had finished seventh overall last year, but in the current campaign Dubai’s athletes have looked in good form. Sharjah added six more gold, four silver and three bronze medals to their overnight tally of three to pull themselves up from fifth place.

Neighbouring Ajman bagged three gold, two silver and two bronze medals to occupy third place overall, while last year’s champions Fujairah are in fourth after adding three gold, two silver and two bronze medals for an overall total of 11 medals.

Mohammed Al Kamali, secretary general of the UAE National Olympic Committee, who attended the presentation ceremony at Al Wasl Club said it was important for the school children to win something as it would motivate them and also boost their confidence levels.

“In addition to the medals, winners get cash awards of Dh3,000, Dh2,000 and Dh1,000 for first, second and third place respectively,” Al Kamali revealed.

The games are being held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE NOC president.

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Clark Francis Tennis launch taster sessions for kids in UAE

Denzil Pinto 22/05/2014
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Clark Francis Tennis will be holding its first Starter Tournament on Friday for children aged between four to nine years, and there’s still time to sign up before today’s 20:00 deadline.

Gems Modern Academy in Dubai will play host to the Starter Tournament which will have two categories – Tots Skills Challenge (ages four to six, from 08:00 to 09:30) and the Red Starter Tournament (ages seven to nine, from 10:00 to 12:00).

Clark Francis Tennis staff are keen to target players who wish to gain experience through playing the sport without aiming to accumulate ranking points. 

In the Tots Skills Challenge, kids will be introduced to the basics of playing tennis.

Paul Espie, coach at Clark Francis Tennis, said: “The children will be challenged to do different forms of exercise and techniques that are used in tennis. For example, they will practice their forehand and backhand techniques.

“By the end of the day they will earn points after completing 10 different exercises at the various stations that will be set up for the purpose.”

In the Red Star Tournament, children who have just been introduced to the sport will get the opportunity to improve upon their existing skills and techniques.

“The Red Star Tournament is for those who have been playing tennis for just a few months and who are seriously interested in taking up the sport,” said Espie.

“It will be a very relaxed tournament where children will be able to enjoy playing the sport and also get first-hand experience of playing on a tennis court.”

There will be approximately 20 coaches on the day with children playing on 12 mini courts. And, while all will receive prizes and certificates, Espie emphasised that participation in the event was more important.

Espie said: “It’s just not about winning. It’s more about competing and using it as a stepping stone for future competitions. What we want to do is to make sure that we provide a full programme for every level and ability.”

Entry fees are Dh70 per person. To register, email [email protected]

VENUE: Gems Modern Academy, Dubai
WHAT: Clark Francis Starter Tournament 
WHEN: Friday, May 23
Sport360 VERDICT: Open to children between four and nine, the tournament is ideal for those wishing to learn the basics of the sport, as well as improving their technique under the guidance of Clarke Francis coaches.
CONTACT: www.clarkfrancistennis.com

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