University Sports has launched the AUB President’s Club International Sports Tournament as part of the University’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Alongside a ceremonial opening at the AUB Green Field, sports teams from Lebanon and American Universities of different countries competed over three consecutive days in a spirit of professionalism combined with comradery and collaboration.
With support from the AUB President’s Club, the unprecedented tournament took off on different locations on the AUB campus. Participating universities were the American University of Cairo (AUC), American University at Dubai (AUD), American College of Greece (ACG), and seven universities from Lebanon in addition to AUB: Lebanese American University (LAU) Beirut and Byblos, University of Saint Joseph (USJ), University of Holy Spirit Kaslik (USEK), University of Balamand (UOB), Haigazian University (HU), Beirut Arab University (BAU), and Antonine University (UA).
The teams competed in Football (men), Futsal (women), Volleyball (men and women), Basketball (men and women), Swimming (men and women), Water Polo (men), Track and Field (men and women), Table Tennis (men and women), Tennis (men and women), Rugby League (men). All games were officially refereed by the corresponding Lebanese Sports Federations that monitored the competitions and registered any record-breaking.
Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sports, General Abdel Motaleb Hannawi, and ambassadors and official representatives of the participating countries in Lebanon engaged in the ceremonial opening of the three-day tournament. The sport teams lined up holding their country flags, national anthems were played by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces band, and as the tournament flame was lit, fireworks surprised the audience with a special anniversary display.
President Fadlo Khuri thanked all who organized, sponsored, supported, and participated in this tournament. He reminded the audience of the significance of this event as “an effort of competitive sportsmanship that is non-violent, important for the future of this country and society,” and he wished all players good luck.
“Words cannot express how proud and happy I am to see this tournament come to fruition,” said Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin. “Our athlete guests have come to AUB from afar to participate in this very important event in the best spirit of sportsmanship. Students everywhere face the same hopes, dreams, and to represent their universities is one of the most enriching and important experiences that student athletes go through during their time at their universities.”
“The success of such events and the time, commitment, and dedication the athletes put to give their best at their sports speaks much both about the athletes participating as much as about the universities themselves,” he added.
With the wrap up of the official opening of the tournament, the audience was invited to watch the various games that were taking place in parallel on campus. A football match kicked off between AUB and AUC at the same location of the opening ceremony; while the swimming competitions were in progress in AUB’s semi Olympic, touch-pad pool; along with Tennis, Volleyball (men and women), and Basketball (women) games. Semi-finals will take place on Saturday and are followed by the closing ceremony and distribution of awards.
“This tournament is very important because it allows the Lebanese youth to mix with other cultures and countries,” Director of University Sports Ghaleb Halimi told us as his team of 27 full-time and 22 part-time staff buzzed between ongoing games and the crowd cheering echoed in the halls. “This opens up many opportunities for the students as they establish new friendships and collaborations through sports.” Halimi added that AUB Sports was exploring ways to build on this achievement and make it an annual event.
Anis Abdul Maguid, a graduating senior in mechanical engineering at AUC, spoke to us after playing four rugby league games on opening day about what he called an “amazing experience”. “AUB is very much close to home. It was fun seeing how much AUB had in common with AUC, this is a very friendly place,” he said. “We were very well received in a spirit of sportsmanship by the AUB teams. I really hope we do this again soon… before I graduate please!”
Excited athletes and even more excited fans filled the Charles W. Hostler Student Center area. Monitors, referees, and coaches moved about and audiences asked for updates on the latest score results. In the midst of the rush, everyone expressed that the international sports tournament was a great idea that should be taken further for more interaction and more synergy among the youth.