UAE students consider a career in sports

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UAE students consider a career in sports

Mindset changing with more parents allowing kids to pursue their passion.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sun 29 May 2016, 4:10 PM

Last updated: Sun 29 May 2016, 10:03 PM

A great number of high school students are now considering a career in sports and related fields of education, according to sports teachers, parents, and students.
With organisations like the Dubai Affiliated School Sports Association (DASSA) encouraging sporting activities in schools and with sports-management degrees becoming available in the UAE unlike a few years ago, students are considering a career in either professional sports or teaching physical education and sports to students.
Currently, DASSA has 40 to 45 international schools under its aegis. "Earlier, parents would shy away or discourage students from pursuing sports. They live under the notion that there are no career opportunities in sports," said Mick Wright, PHE Leader of Learning, Uptown School Mirdiff.
"However, mindsets are changing and now more and more parents are open to allowing their kids to pursue their passion." However, Wright also said that interest alone is not enough, since career opportunities for sports in the UAE are still limited to a niche crowd. As of now, students can either play or they can teach.
Sporting experts are also suggesting that this trend is becoming common place because of the high level of importance the UAE government pays to sports and sporting activities among kids and adults. "In Dubai, a lot is invested into triathlon training and other sporting activities regularly. For students, the infrastructure to play sports outside of school is also very high," he said.
Wright has been teaching sports for 15 years; five in United Kingdom and 10 years in the UAE. Former director of sports at the Dubai British School, Wright trains students in football and squash. He has a degree in Sports Science and Physical education. "There are no big opportunities yet. School programmes in case of competitive sporting are still limited," he said.
Many schools also run courses in sports science and exercise at the diploma level. "Many students travel back to the UK or their home countries. Students from the UAE are also looking to avail scholarships to the United States, where sports universities and pursuing of sports education is more common," he added.
Chipping into the conversation, Peter Hollywood, Head of PE and Sports, GEMS FirstPoint School said: "As the number of schools participating in competitive sport in Dubai grows, the number of students competing will evidently grow as well. Not only will this bring about an improvement in the overall standard of play, but it will also stretch and challenge the best performers in all activity areas."
However, to avoid dropping out of sports after high school, varsities need to introduce sporting degrees and provide scholarships.
Hollywood said: "With the ever-increasing popularity of sport in Dubai, it is inevitable that there will be an increase in professional sport within the UAE. As more international sporting events are held in the country, there will be a focus and target for our best young performers to aim towards, which will ensure they want to reach their full potential within their sport."
Students also have more exposure to sporting role models. A lot of importance is also given to nutrition and physical activity. Fatima Martin, Principal, GEMS New Millennium School, Al Khail said: "At GEMS New Millennium School we use variety of methods to keep kids motivated. Some of the activities include walking on a raised ramp, using hula-hoops, bean-balls, aerobics and swimming. We firmly believe that love for sports should be inculcated at an early stage."
She added: "We believe in continuous improvement supplemented with in-house research. Early adoption to variety of techniques always helps including digital resources to develop the love of sport and reach out to a range of learning styles."

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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