What a wonderful week of sport we have enjoyed. Our Boys U16 Basketball won the Division 1 trophy, coming back from being 31-16 down at half time to win 45-42 in a nail-biting finish. 4 years ago they were Division 4 champions, 3 years ago Division 3 champions, last year Division 2 champions, and now they have secured top honours. Our Boys U10 football were winners of Southern Green League and went on to participate in the champions tournament where they played against Regent, Sharjah English, DESS, WSO and DIA to see who is the best. They came third out of seven, with two draws. The U19 Boys football have had an unbeaten season and beat Jumeirah College 3-1 to end on a high. Goal difference means that they did not win the trophy, but it has been a great run for them. The support from students, staff and parents at these fixtures has been superb: we have never seen such a turnout and enjoyed such enthusiastic fans.
There are many measures of a successful school: not only the academic outcomes of the students, quality of teaching, the happiness of the students and staff, the range of subjects and programmes on offer but also the standard of sport, art and music.
When I arrived at GCS four years ago I was struck by the low levels of participation in sport and the lack of support for the teams when they played. ‘We’re the losing school, we always lose at everything’, was something I heard repeatedly from students. We had no sports kit: students played in their daily uniform and seldom did all the students have the same outfit for matches. We struggled to field teams for the whole season: our students would lose heart and we sometimes had to cancel matches because we couldn’t field full teams.
Sporting success at school is like a pyramid or an iceberg: the height of the pinnacle is directly related to the depth and breadth of the base. Under the leadership of Mark Bishop initially and later Matt Christensen we made sport a focus: improving the levels of participation and competitiveness. It required the participation of the entire staff in the Extra Curricular Activity programme. This strengthened the range of clubs and cultural opportunities for our students. The PE staff began to enjoy the support from teaching staff in coaching sports teams. The students began to play with greater commitment. Our boys U16 basketball is one of a number of sports that have enjoyed growth: swimming and netball, to name but two.
The success of our top teams is built upon the base of participation and support from the entire school community. Thank you to all of the staff who take an ECA and to Ryan van Zyl and John Collins for planning and running our ECA programme to everyone who offers one. Our PE staff and coaches have given many long afternoons taking teams to and from galas, tournaments and games. It has been a long journey, and one that we can look back upon with great pride. It has not all been plain sailing and there have been losses and disappointments along the way, but learning to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat is one of the life lessons that sport teaches.
The positive impact on school spirit has been tangible. We are now a school that is competitive and holds its own in the top divisions. The students wear their smart new sports kit and the school badge with pride. This has been a big team effort and we are enjoying the fruits of a long journey.