NYUAD’s campus is filling up this week with eager students. Time Out speaks to its athletics director about how he’s reimagining sport
When did you arrive in Abu Dhabi?
In 2010, I was hired to be NYUAD’s Director of Athletics, to develop their athletics programme and set the vision for the direction of the programme.
What did you immediately want to fix or implement?
I discovered there was no university league where students can meet and play against other local schools. We created a league with just four local universities and now we are up to 14 in Abu Dhabi alone. We play 10 sports. More than 1,200 students participate and the majority are Emirati. Most games are played here on Wednesday nights and everyone is welcome to come watch.
How has this changed university sports in the capital?
One important change is that more women are getting into the game. Zayed University is our partner. We use their facilities for all the women’s games. More than 550 women play university sports, whereas before this they had access to virtually none. I am very proud of this collaboration.
What impact does having a league such as this have on students?
It’s hard to understate. NYUAD’s philosophy is very community centred. We are dedicated to finding ways to bridge the gaps within communities. Prior to our league, universities used to play the odd tournament against one another. We introduced the idea of getting together week after week, playing with each other and getting to know each other. It’s been a great community success story. Every Wednesday night, you will see a couple hundred students on the green playing, hanging out, cheering teams on or just talking in groups.
Tell readers about your facilities?
We are so blessed. We have everything: a 1,700 seat stadium, a 400m track with eight lanes – the only one in Abu Dhabi. We have a 50m indoor pool. We want to share our wealth of our facilities with the greater Abu Dhabi community.
Will NYUAD offer community sporting events?
Yes. People of all ages can come to our campus to compete in our regular tournaments. On September 18-19, local volleyball teams (U16-U21) can register to participate in our Saadiyat Spike tournament. We plan to offer tennis, badminton, table tennis and basketball tournaments along with swim and track meets throughout the year. Everyone is welcome. Just visit our Facebook page: NYU Abu Dhabi Athletics.
To register your team into the Saadiyat Spike, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Register before September 10.