Dubai, Abu Dhabi: With football fever running high with World Cup matches screening live on TV daily, students and educators in the UAE are balancing their love for the game with the end-of-year exams and schedules.
This year, the 21st Fifa World Cup is being played in Russia from June 14 to July 15. Many students in the UAE are sitting for their final exams or term exams, depending on the curriculum, until the last week of June.
However, pupils and teachers, who are also busy with the end-of-year workload, said it does not have to be a case of choosing one over another. With planning and discipline, it is easy to accommodate both, they said.
Yousef Asif, a grade eight student at GEMS Our Own Indian School, Dubai, has printed out a schedule of all his favourite teams playing so he can plan his studies accordingly.
I also find that my son is extra efficient between matches and makes sure that he finishes all his assignments, especially because we let him watch the late match, so I am not too worried.”
- Moushmi Mohanty | Indian homemaker
“I’m only going to watch the whole match live on TV of my favourite teams Brazil and Argentina; the rest I can watch as highlights later. To make more room for studies, I’m cutting back on any distractions like smart devices or games. I’ve even got printouts of the dates and timings of the matches, and I will plan my studies around that accordingly,” said Yousef, 13, from India.
To add to most parents’ relief, the most crucial matches — quarter finals, semi-finals and final — are scheduled to start only after schools have closed for the summer vacation in the first week of July.
At this initial stage, there are three matches a day, and students who want to follow all of them may not find much time to study. There is only about an hour’s break between the day’s first match, which runs from 4pm to about 6om, and the second encounter that begins at 7pm. An hour after the second match finishes at about 9pm, the final match of the day begins at 10pm.
“My nine-year-old son is very passionate about football, and he insisted that we subscribe to the TV channel so that he could watch all the matches. Fortunately though, all his Grade 5 exams have finished. I also find that he is extra efficient between matches and makes sure that he finishes all his assignments, especially because we let him watch the late match, so I am not too worried,” said Moushmi Mohanty, a 43-year-old homemaker from India.
Children watch the World Cup match between Germany and Mexico with their father at a cafe in Abu Dhabi. Parents have realised that forcing children to skip matches is not a great idea. Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Mohanty added that it is also not a good idea to forcibly keep children away from the activities they love.
“My son is a sports club member and loves football. So even if he had assessments, I would try to work out a routine that would help him both study and catch up with the day’s important matches,” she said.
Iain College, principal at Raha International School, added that the timings of this World Cup should not be far too disruptive for young fans in the UAE.
“The World Cup timings are not having a huge impact on schools here as the Russian time zones are similar to the UAE, and most games start after school,” College said.
Parents can also ask children to decide on an appropriate timetable that will help them strike a balance between their studies and the matches.”
- Ahmad Al Bastaki | Emirates National Schools
“However, some matches do finish a little late and for families who have football-mad children, it is essential that parents ensure all homework is completed on time and that children are only allowed to watch the odd late game, to ensure that they get enough sleep, as it can be detrimental to learning if students are tired. This is a rule I will be following myself! I hope to watch a few games, particularly England, but I will make sure I get some early nights during the rest of the week too,” he added.
The school follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum, and the majority of end-of-year assessments have already been completed.
Ahmad Al Bastaki, deputy director-general for school operations at Emirates National Schools, advised parents to draft a study timetable for children who are football fans.
“Maybe children in middle and high school will be interested in the matches, and parents must ensure that they understand their responsibilities as students. They can also ask children to decide on an appropriate timetable that will help them strike a balance between their studies and the matches,” Al Bastaki said.