x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Trip to China a chance to grow afar for BSAK students

The British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) will again take an U13 boys rugby team to a tournament in Beijing, but this time two girl's netball squads will accompany them for tournament of their own.

Students of the British School Al Khubairat will make a trip to China to compete in a rugby tournament as defending champions.
Students of the British School Al Khubairat will make a trip to China to compete in a rugby tournament as defending champions.

As school outings go, this week's visit to China by Abu Dhabi's British School Al Khubairat will be hard to beat. The Under 13 boys will return to Beijing to defend the rugby 10-a-side trophy they won last year against schools from around South-east Asia.

This time they will be joined by the Under 13 girls, who will take part in a netball tournament. Both events are based at Dulwich College International School in Beijing.

But while the teachers would like their teams to achieve success on the sports field, it is how they react to the travel experience that is seen as being far more important. Lyn Jones, the school's director of rugby, achieved much in his career as a Welsh international player, but the experience he enjoyed a year ago when he first visited the Chinese capital equalled any success he enjoyed in his playing days, he said. He knows that these next few days likely will be remembered forever by the 39 youngsters making the trip.

"This is as much to do with helping these kids become adults as it is about sport," Jones said. "Last year was an amazing experience, and that is why we are delighted to return for another week.

"The rugby and netball will be fantastic and, obviously, we want the teams to do well. However, we are also shaping them as people and this is a great way to do that."

Jones said the team will take time to visit the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Bird's Nest Stadium.

"My hope is that they return from China more mature having been given the chance to see a very different part of the world," he said. "Last year was my first visit to that area and it really opened my eyes. I can't wait to see the reaction when we visit the various sites.

"I'm a great believer that travel can bring out the best in you. For these young people to be given an opportunity to go to China at their age is a real privilege, as it is for the five members of staff who will accompany them."

The trip is not just about sight-seeing and personal growth. There are 23 rugby players and 16 from the netball team who want to win a title for their school. "We were originally invited by Dulwich College in 2009 and a year later we took an Under 13 boys team there to play in what was a lovely tournament," Jones said.

"The standard, I'm sure, will be good again. There will be teams from China, Hong Kong and all over the region. So it's going to be a good mix. It's great the girls are coming with us this year as well. It shows how important sport is to our school."

The squads

Under 13 boys rugby

Thomas Mason, Ben Taylor, Harry Seward, Thomas Allan, Cameron Bunch, George Harris, Fraser March, Robert Hudson, Gabriel Kennedy, Billy Conchie, Ryan Phillips, Cameron Taylor, Owain Chandler, Euan Bell, Kaleb McDonald, Bernard Kobersky, Liam Wilson, Sam Teasdale, David Richards, Jack Vevers, Jamie Pell, Joel Pearson, Matthew Farrell.

Under 13 girls netball
White team – Georgia Barber, Eleanor Wolfe, PJ Cunningham, Zoe Tikari, Sarah Ellis, Gillian Niven, Bryony Evans, Megan Miller.
Blue team –Joanna Engle, Madeleine Hyde, Megan Treblay, Saachi Ahluwalia, Isabel Crooks, Isobel Shaban, Stephanie Wagner, Vairi Wilcox.

ncameron@thenational.ae