LAU’s athletes crown past victories with more wins
As LAU’s Sailors and Captains continue to excel year on year, this season saw them take gold and silver in a number of sports at national and international tournaments.
LAU’s Beirut-based Sailors sports teams took home three winners’ trophies this season from the University Sports Conference (USC) championships. In addition to the gold, silver and bronze medals the teams clinched at the USC swimming championships, they came in first in the women’s table tennis and men’s varsity football.
Meanwhile, the Byblos-based Captains continued to excel in men’s basketball, winning the AUB 150th anniversary international tournament and, for the sixth time in the past seven years, the USC championship.
Postgraduate student in education and avid table tennis player Nour Houry is delighted with her team’s success. “It was amazing to win. I was down three points to eight, but then coach Nabil gave me a pep talk that turned things around,” recalls Houry, whose final singles match was the decisive game in the tournament.
“The women are very dedicated and that is something that is very important, not only in sport but also in life,” says Nabil Stouhi who, in addition to coaching the league teams, teaches a one-credit elective in table tennis.
A number of sports are taught either as requirements or electives by the Department of Education, and among the more recently offered courses is one in futsal, also known as indoor soccer. This year, the Captains returned from the EUROESADE international tournament in Barcelona as runners up in the futsal tournament. They also took silver in women’s basketball and tennis, while the Sailors won the men’s basketball tournament.
“Although, in tennis, we compete as individuals at international tournaments, the team spirit is still very much alive and motivational,” says tennis ace and Captains athlete Jad Slaibe―who just graduated with a degree in business studies―after winning the tennis championship in Madrid last year and coming second this year.
Competitions abroad, agrees Roy Abi Elias, stimulate players and promote camaraderie. Abi Elias coaches the Sailors varsity football team that this season won the USC League Cup. “We recruited some strong players this semester through our scholarship program, and we’ve been implementing some new initiatives to instruct and motivate the players,” he explains.
Among those initiatives, and one that is being used across the sports, is video analysis. “We’ve been filming the athletes while they play and reviewing the recordings,” says coordinator of athletics at the Beirut campus Sabine Fakhoury. “The players have responded well to it and we’ve found it to be very effective.”
Another strategy strengthening players and teamwork, says director of athletics at the Byblos campus Joe Moujaes, is the nurturing of junior varsity teams. “We have a lot of interest in some sports, so we train a junior varsity team and include strong players who help motivate and strengthen the performance of each player and the team as a whole,” explains Moujaes, adding that many athletes in the junior teams go on to play in the varsity teams.
Director of Athletics in Beirut Sami Garabedian is delighted and encouraged by the strong performance. “This has been, by far, our most productive in recent years, particularly in terms of end-of-season results. What our teams and coaches have achieved is only a testament to their commitment and dedication to our athletics programs,” he enthused.
“This is, hopefully, an encouraging sign of more great achievements to come in the future. We are proud of our players, coaches and the entire administrative staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure success.”
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