Now Reading
Best Leagues, Competitions for School Sports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Best Leagues, Competitions for School Sports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

by Lis ONealApril 20, 2017

In a country with relatively small numbers of students compared with more established countries, there seems to be a perception that the range of available sports and quality of sports coaching in schools – particularly for competitive sports – is limited.

Our research shows that this is very much NOT the case, although inter-school competition for outdoor ball sports is more limited in some curricula than others.

ALSO SEE: The best schools in the UAE for Sport

Whilst competitive sports is absolutely integral to the curriculum of most UK, US and IB curriculum schools, it seems to be less so among other curricula.  In particular, many Asian schools offer some ball sports as part of their curriculum, but play little at a competitive level – with the exception of cricket and football.

Often Indian schools play competitive sports by hosting Sports Meets for schools of the same curriculum on an annual basis.The Indian High School Sports Meet is one of the largest events of its type. Often sports are part of the After-school activity programme, rather than an integral part of the curriculum (even if the After-school activity programme forms part of a compulsory Day-boarding arrangement).

The UAE CBSE schools compete in a series of clusters from which they can qualify for national competitions in India. Sports such Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Table Tennis and Swimming are included. In addition, there is the UAE Xchange Cricket League, the Sport 360 leagues and the du Football Cup, in which students from CBSE schools compete, together with students from a range of curricula in both public and private schools.

Where we have been able to find details of competitions involving Asian schools, these are included. However, there has not been sufficient information available for us to draw conclusions about the most successful teams or schools for most sports played.

Among the other international curriculum schools, not only is there a wider range of different sports available to students – particularly at a competitive level in  both upper Primary and Secondary School – but there are also a range of different competitive leagues and associations which support this activity.


In recent times, external organisations have started to get involved in sponsorship of some of the most popular sports – something that suggests that there is also a growing belief in the quality of what is being played or participated in.

Increasingly also, professional sports organisations are taking over the coaching activities going on in schools, enabling a wider range of sports to be offered without schools having to fund this expensive development in full. Both GEMS Education and Taaleem (two of the largest providers of education in the UAE) have outsourced much of their sports coaching to East Sports Management.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there seems to be something of a divide between UK curriculum schools and those from other curricula in terms of not only the sports on offer, but also their participation in the established leagues. Whilst there are one or two US and IB curriculum schools that participate among the overwhelmingly UK curriculum schools, in general, there seem to be distinctly separate leagues operated by the transatlantic cousins!

Competition is not just restricted to a city by city or emirate by emirate basis, but also includes inter-emirate and inter-GCC competition. A small number of schools participate in overseas leagues and arrange overseas tours.

We have looked at the most popular leagues and competitions and identified those schools that routinely seem to collect the trophies on the Winner’s podiums. There are a few surprises.  We found that the schools that have a genuine and solid commitment to supporting sportsmen and women, have reputations built on academic rather than sporting success.


Abu Dhabi School Sports Association
British Schools of the Middle East
Dubai Affiliated School Sport Association
Dubai Little League
Emirates Athletic Conference
Junior Emirates Athletic Conference
Middle East South Asia Conference (MESAC)
Near East Schools Activities Conference (NESAC)
duFC School’s Cup
Sport 360 National Schools League
UAE Xchange Abu Dhabi Schools League


ALSO SEE: The best schools in the UAE for Sport

About The Author
Lis ONeal

Leave a Reply