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Clockwise from top left: Recipients of the Sports Scholarship Boarding programme of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge — Shahad Mohamed Alkharoossim, Zaid Saed Arar, Rashed Ali Alyammahi, Mubarak Juma Alteneiji, Sara Ali Abubaker, and Rashed Ali Alnaqbi. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Education

  • Abu Dhabi's first sports scholarship, tailored for Emirati students in grades 9-11 (Year 10-12) from public, private, and charter schools aims to contribute to Abu Dhabi’s thriving sports ecosystem.
  • Distinguished Emirati talents in football, basketball, and golf join ther programme’s first cohort at IMG Academy in Florida, USA.
  • Professional scouts will identify future talents from Abu Dhabi Sports Championship and summer sports programs.

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has launched a new scholarship programme targeted at Emirati students from Abu Dhabi schools in Grades 9-11 (Year 10-12) to join some of the world’s leading sports programmes and academies.

The first-of-its-kind in the UAE, ADEK’s Sports Scholarship Boarding programme recognises the vital importance of sports education in building well-rounded individuals.

It offers students a unique opportunity to join international sports academies before pursuing their higher education on athletic or academic scholarships with an athletic focus to contribute to Abu Dhabi’s thriving sports ecosystem upon graduation.

Boarding programmes

In its first cohort, six athletically-distinguished Emirati students have joined IMG Academy in Florida, USA, to benefit from training with top-of-the-line coaches and a comprehensive curriculum that equally emphasizes academics, athletics, and personal development, empowering students to achieve their athletic potential.

As part of the fully-funded boarding programmes, students are staying on campus throughout the programme duration to ensure maximum exposure to professional training.

“The Sports Scholarship Boarding programme goes beyond a traditional scholarship model and aims to cultivate well-rounded individuals capable of excelling both academically and athletically,” said Dr. Bashaer Al Matrooshi, Executive Director – Talent Enablement Sector at ADEK.

“It offers an integrated experience that nurtures athletic talents, academic growth, and personal development. The Sports Scholarship Boarding programme sets the standard for future sports education initiatives, contributes to Abu Dhabi’s thriving sports ecosystem and encourages more students to explore creative talents.”

IMG Academy welcomes first cohort

ADEK collaborated with professional sport scouts to identify the six Emirati students – outstanding in football, basketball, and golf – to join the first cohort of the program at IMG Academy. The students will be spending 2-3 years at the academy before choosing an athletic or academic pathway.

Selected students were part of 10 Emirati students who participated in ADEK’s Rize Summer Program at IMG Academy Talent Camp, while some students were identified during ADEK’s sports championship last year, further highlighting the important opportunities that outstanding student athletes can anticipate from taking part in local sports tournaments, including the Abu Dhabi Sports Championship organised by ADEK.

Rashid Al Naqbi, a Year 12 golf scholar, said: “This programme gives me the opportunity to pursue my passion and maintain my strong academic performance. IMG Academy provides us with a comprehensive schedule that covers training and school timings, with enough spare time to study and practice. I am certain that my abilities will improve drastically, and I hope to use the skills I am learning here to represent the UAE internationally.”

Fellow Emirati golf scholar, Sara Ali, agreed: “The IMG Academy is excellent at helping us maintain a balance between studies, sports, and downtime. My goal is to become a professional golf player, to represent the UAE, and stand on the podium proudly holding up the UAE flag.”

Mubarak Al Teneiji, a Grade 10 football scholar from Jern Yafoor Charter School who participated in ADEK’s sports championship last year, hopes to represent the UAE on the international level and believes the scholarship can only help him on his journey, both personally and professionally.

“This scholarship will help me with my athletic, academic and personal growth. I am excited that I do not need to compromise and choose between my education and playing football, as I can now do both and develop my skills to make my home country proud.”

Promising basketball talent Zaid Arar said: “⁠This experience will help me greatly moving forward and preparing for university. Academically I got to pick subjects that are personalized to my liking and my future goals. Even though I have only been here for a short period I can already see some improvements in my basketball skills.

"At IMG, we are not only improving our sports skills, but also maintaining our nutrition, sleep and mental well-being to the highest standards to make sure we make the most out of this great opportunity.